New study suggests early introduction to foods may help food allergies

1 in 13 children have food allergies

By Ashly Custer - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Allergists say food allergies among children have continued to increase over the last decade. In the past, parents were advised to avoid giving babies highly allergenic foods like eggs or peanuts too early. Now, a new study found the opposite to be true..that early introduction may lower a child's risk of developing the allergy.

According to the Food Allergy Research and Education Organization 1 in 13 children have food allergies.

KSAT 12 spoke to a mom who said the allergies do present unique challenges, but at the same time it's taught her family to eat healthier.

Even a small treat is not so simple for Melanie Mendez-Gonzales. Luckily for her boys, these 'twinkies' are vegan.

"Didn't have any dairy in them and they were completely safe for my son to have, I literally wanted to cry because it's not a normal thing for us. We love coming here so that he could have a snack with everyone else," Mendez-Gonzales said.

Her 6-year-old son has several food allergies, but he's not alone.

"Food allergies have just increased in the last decade. We're more aware of it and we have either kids that we know or parents that have gone through it," Texan Allergy and Sinus Center physician assistant Alyssa Arredondo said.

"The best thing to do is pay attention to their bodies when they have new foods introduced and be aware of the eczema because that was huge. I do tell parents that all the time, 'If they have eczema, look into food allergies because its a huge indication'," Mendez-Gonzales said.

The Journal of The American Medical Association released a new study suggesting early introduction of foods may reduce the risk of food allergies in children.

"I think how the body's chemistry is to certain foods if we are exposed to it early on. We're able to withstand those different proteins that happen with the different foods. So normally, the studies have shown that a 4-6 month period is good for egg, and a 4-11 months for peanuts." Arredondo said.

Unfortunately, Mendez-Gonzales said that didn't work for her son, who was diagnosed with food allergies when he was about 18-months-old. But that's also why Arredondo warns that the results of this study doesn't mean parents should go out and start feeding their babies peanuts. She said it's always consult your pediatrician first before introducing new foods.

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