Australia has one of the highest rates of allergies in the world, and recent research conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute reports that Australia has the highest published rates of food allergies in children.
The same research estimates that about one in ten infants have a food allergy, and the most common food allergies that cause reactions in both adults and children in Australia are cow’s milk, egg, peanuts, other nuts, seafood such as crustaceans and fish, wheat and soy. Although many children grow out of their allergies too egg, milk, soy or wheat, most other allergies will follow the sufferer into adulthood.
Who is most at risk?
In Australia, research indicates that infants who have allergic eczema (especially those with moderate to severe cases), those with a history of any allergies in the family, and infants who are first-born Australians whose parents have emigrated from Asia to Australia are most at-risk of food allergies. In fact, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia reports that if one parent of a child has an allergy, the child has a 30 per cent chance of inheriting the allergic gene. If both parents have a history of allergies, the chance of the child having an allergy rises to 40 to 60 per cent.
What can you do about it?
In the past, medical professionals have recommended that parents avoid feeding their children foods that could cause an allergic reaction within the first 12 months of life. However, this advice is now dated and recent research suggests that it is incorrect. The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends that parents introduce foods such as eggs, nuts, cow’s milk, soy, sesame, wheat, fish and other seafood to their child’s diet within the first 12 months of life, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. The organisation explains that doing this may reduce your child’s chance of developing a food allergy, and that once introduced into the child’s diet, they should eat those foods regularly.
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