Allergy London’s Paediatric Allergist, Professor Adam Fox, spoke recently to Actress Ali Bastian, to provide helpful advice and guidance in a Q&A session covering allergies, eczema, weaning and the introduction of allergenic foods in the context of welcoming a new baby into an ‘allergic family.’
This meeting marked part two in the ‘allergy chats’ series with Professor Fox and Ali, and the first since Ali and her family welcomed a new baby earlier this year.
The conversation covers welcoming a new baby and the risk factors associated with the new baby developing food allergies; which follows on from part one, where Ali opened about her older child’s journey with food allergies. She details her family’s journey with food allergies, and talks of the natural worries and concerns they have with their second child.
Professor Adam Fox answers Ali’s questions, sharing expert advice while referencing the latest research findings to give Ali and other families practical tips and advice.
Key things to remember when it comes to welcoming a new baby into an allergy family:
- Genetic factors from both parents could contribute to allergies in children.
- Don’t jump to conclusions; stay objective about symptoms and triggers
- Subsequent children can experience common issues unrelated to allergies.
- Avoid over-diagnosing or cutting out foods unnecessarily.
- Family history of food allergy doesn’t directly cause specific allergies.
- Presence of eczema is closely link to likelihood of food allergies and the risk of eczema is genetically linked; babies with severe eczema are at higher risk of food allergies and early onset is a significant risk factor.
Some of the key talking points from the Q&A:
Eczema severity and food allergy risk: The severity of eczema in babies appears to be a significant factor in determining their risk of developing food allergies. Babies with more severe eczema, often requiring treatment such as topical steroids, are considered to be at a higher risk of developing food allergies.
Early onset of eczema: The timing of when eczema starts in a baby’s life also plays a role in their susceptibility to food allergies. Babies who experience eczema starting at an early age, especially before the age of 3 months, seem to have an increased risk of developing food allergies.
The link between food allergies and eczema seems to diminish if the eczema hasn’t emerged by the time a child reaches about a year of age.
Introduction of allergenic foods: The traditional advice of delaying the introduction of allergenic foods been challenged by newer research. The current recommendation in the UK is to introduce allergenic foods from around six months of age (e.g., foods such as such as peanut, sesame and egg).
However, it might be even more helpful to introduce foods such as peanut, egg and sesame even earlier than so it’s more in line with that European and North American advice, this being from 17 weeks old.
Moisturising and allergies: There’s a study indicating that excessive moisturising by mothers before eczema develops might increase the risk of food allergies in babies. This might be due to potential transfer of allergens from the mother’s hands to the baby’s skin. This is therefore not advised.
Special thanks to Ali to opening up for this Q&A and sharing her family’s personal journey with allergies.