New allergen guidelines for babies contradict old advice

Published: .
Updated: .

Introducing babies to peanut butter, eggs and shellfish at an early age could actually prevent them from developing food allergies.

That's according to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which released new recommendations outlining when and how to introduce highly allergenic foods. It's a complete reversal from prior American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines which stated parents should wait until age three to begin these foods.

The new recommendations suggest introducing allergenic foods between four and six months of age because waiting could cause a child's immune system to treat them as foreign substances and attack them, resulting in an allergy.

"My take is hold off until age three just because of choking and aspiration risk, especially if you have any respiratory issues, siblings with peanut allergies you need to discuss with pediatrician. I don't think the word is final. I would wait for more evidence," said Dr. Maria Luisa Pila Ermitano, St. Vincent allergist and pediatrician.

An allergist should be consulted when a child has eczema or an existing food allergy. Results of of a large study directly comparing early and late introduction of allergenic foods are expected next year.