As allergies are more and more frequent, it is legitimate to wonder, as a parent, about the best way to prevent them in your child. The latest recommendations from the French Pediatric Society explained by our specialists.
Eliminating allergenic foods during pregnancy is no use
Contrary to popular belief, following a special diet during pregnancy does not limit the risk of allergy.
“Eliminating certain allergenic foods such as milk, eggs and peanuts from the diet of pregnant women is useless,” says Dr. Jean Lalau-Keraly, pediatrician. In addition, a particular diet can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the mother-to-be. Skipping alcohol is the only need, even if it’s not related to the allergy. “
In addition, a Swedish study, carried out by the University of Chalmers, has shown that the consumption of fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, etc.) during pregnancy helps prevent the development of allergies in children. This would be due to omega-3 essential fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Breastfeeding your baby limits the risk of allergy
Breast milk provides all the nutrients infants need for healthy development, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends it until they are six months old.
“Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding your baby for 4 to 6 months has a protective effect on the development of a food allergy,” says the pediatrician. The pursuit of the‘breastfeeding at the start of food diversification also allows better tolerate foods containing gluten “.
However, breastfeeding does not protect against all allergies, especially dust mites. “And be careful not to continue breastfeeding for too long to the detriment of diversification, because it could then induce teething problems, and the rejection of solid or pieces! », Warns Ysabelle Levasseur, dietician-nutritionist.
Choosing a hypoallergenic infant formula
Breastfeeding is not popular with all mothers. If, in the maternity ward, 74% of babies are breastfed, they are only 39% at 3 months and 25% at 6 months. The choice of infant milk is then important. “The latest studies show that certain hypoallergenic infant milks, such as Nidal HA for example, have a preventive effect on atopic dermatitis, the most frequent allergic phenomenon in food allergy in small children.
On the other hand, hypoallergenic milks do not cause any reduction in asthma or allergic rhinitis ”, specifies the pediatrician. “Nor, moreover, vegetable juices which do not correspond to the nutritional needs of children under three years old and which can even lead to a break in the weight and height curve”, adds the dietician.
Think about probiotics
These living microorganisms play a beneficial role in the balance of the intestinal microbiota, and in the prevention of allergies. Probiotics make it possible, in particular, to reduce the risk of developing atopic dermatitis by 50%. In addition, they are effective against infant colic, constipation and diarrhea.
“Nidal HA milk contains it,” explains the pediatrician. And they are also found in the form of food supplements. During breastfeeding, probiotics can also be put directly on the nipple, if they are chosen in powder form, ”adds the dietician.
Diversify between 4 and 6 months
Before the 2000s, it was recommended not to give infants at high risk of allergies, cow’s milk protein before 1 year, eggs before 2 years and peanuts and seafood before three years.
“We realized that it was a mistake,” says the pediatrician, “since in twenty years of delayed food diversification, food allergy has doubled! Today we recommend diversifying between 4 and 6 months for all foods, even fish, meat, peanuts, nuts, whether the child comes from an atopic family or not. “
No food is to be banned. At this age, “it is important to respect the recommended amounts of food, because if you force the little child to eat, he can refuse the food, vomit without being allergic,” says the dietitian. And in order for him to appreciate a food, it may also be necessary to present it to him up to seven or eight times. “