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Breast Feeding Can Help Control Food Allergies

Study shows that nursing will delay or prevent certain allergies

TUESDAY, May 28, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Nursing mothers with a family history of allergies could prevent or delay food allergies in their babies by avoiding certain foods.

Peanuts, eggs and cow's milk are among the foods that you should avoid when you're nursing, according to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

About six percent of children may develop a food allergy by age two, and studies indicate that infants with a family history of allergy may be two-to-three times more likely to develop an allergy.

Exclusive breast feeding of infants for the first six to 12 months of life is often recommended to prevent development of milk or soy allergies.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has put together a brochure of strategies and precautions for mothers of babies at risk of developing an allergy.

Between six and seven million Americans have a food allergy, and it results in about 30,000 trips to hospital emergency rooms each year. Between 150 to 200 people die each year because of severe allergic reactions to food.

Here are some general food allergy management tips from FAAN and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI):

  • Carefully check all ingredient labels.
  • Learn other names of the food responsible for the allergy.
  • Be cautious when eating in restaurants because staff may not be aware of specific menu ingredients or how food is prepared.
  • Beware of food packaged in multi-packs with other foods. There is the danger of cross-contamination.
  • Learn to recognize food allergy symptoms and be prepared to handle an allergic reaction. Teach this to family and friends.
  • Always carry epinephrine if you've had a previous severe allergic reaction. Wear a medical bracelet or necklace to alert medical personnel or caregivers about your food allergies.

More information

To request the FAAN brochure "Preventing or Delaying the Onset of Food Allergies in Infants", phone 1-800-929-4040 or visit their Web site.

You can get more information about food allergies at the ACAAI. Or phone them at 1-800-842-7777.

SOURCE: News release, May 2002, Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
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