An allergist answers the common question: Is there anything parents can do to help their newborn avoid allergies? ] (Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Children can develop allergies at any age. The earliest sign of an allergic disease is atopic dermatitis or eczema. Eczema can start in the first months of life and is a risk factor for the development of food allergies. Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, and asthma can occur in children as young as two years old.

Allergic development by age

Allergic reactions to food may begin in the first year of life, typically after solid foods have been introduced. Symptoms of a food reaction can be redness, swelling, hives, runny nose or sneezing. Severe symptoms may include neck swelling, difficulty breathing, wheezing, vomiting or diarrhea.

The highest prevalence of food allergy is found in children under the age of five.

Egg and milk allergies usually occur in young children. Peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies are common in children and adults.

Does breastfeeding make a difference?

Some medical literatures have found that only breastfeeding during the first four to six months of life reduces the risk of the baby developing eczema, asthma, and cow's milk allergy.

No recommended that you avoid allergenic foods while breastfeeding your baby. In fact, there are studies that suggest eating these foods while breastfeeding to prevent allergic diseases. The most allergenic foods include cow's milk, eggs, peanut, nuts, soybeans, wheat, shellfish and fish.

Already between four and six months, most children are ready to eat solid food. Recent studies have shown that the introduction of highly allergenic foods can actually help prevent food allergies.

This is in contrast to previous recommendations that suggest delaying the introduction of these foods until after 12 months.

It is helpful to introduce food separately, so that when a reaction occurs, a triggering food can be identified.

Especially in high-risk children it is important to introduce highly allergenic foods, such as those with moderate pre-existing conditions, to severe eczema, a previous allergic reaction and a family history of allergies. If your baby is at high risk, you should talk with your doctor or an allergist before you introduce high allergenic foods.

Chris Couch, MD is an Allergist at the Allergy Asthma Clinic, LTD and clinical assistant at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix. To make an appointment with Dr. Ing. To arrange a couch, call 602-277-3337. . For more information visit

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