Your Baby

Exposure to Air Pollutants During Pregnancy Linked to Autism

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One of the great medical questions perplexing scientists today is, what causes autism spectrum disorders?  While the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to climb, no one seems quite sure why.

A new study may offer at least one reason why certain children develop the complex neurodevelopment disorder - toxic air pollutants.

Preliminary study results from the University of Pittsburgh show a significant correlation between exposure to toxic air pollutants during pregnancy and a child's early years of life and the development of autism spectrum disorders.

"Autism currently affects one in every 68 children in the U.S., and the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders among children in Pennsylvania is increasing," explained Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, executive director of Women for a Healthy Environment. "It is increasingly clear that autism constitutes a significant public health problem, both nationally and here in Pennsylvania."

"Southwestern Pennsylvania has struggled with air pollution for decades, and progress cleaning up our air has been far too slow," said Court Gould, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh. "This new abstract adds to a growing body of evidence linking exposure to toxic air pollutants with increased risks of childhood autism spectrum disorders. We owe it to our children to clean up our air once and for all."

Research published last year in JAMA Psychiatry and Environmental Health Perspectives, also revealed a link between perinatal exposure to air pollutants and autism.

For this study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh conducted a population-based case control study in six counties in southwestern Pennsylvania, estimating the association between autism spectrum disorders and 30 known neurotoxicants. The researchers found that exposure to chromium, cyanide, styrene and other toxic air pollutants during pregnancy and a child's early years of life increased the likelihood that a child would be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Styrene is used in the production of plastics and paints, but is also one of the products of combustion when burning gasoline in vehicles.

Chromium is a heavy metal and air pollution containing it is typically the result of industrial processes and in the hardening of steel.

Cyanide is used in a number of industries or can be found in vehicle exhaust.

"Over the past ten years, we have been seeing an increasing rate of autism not only in the Pittsburgh area but all over the world, and our concern has been that this increase cannot be strictly genetic in origin," said Dr. Scott Faber, Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh. "These findings add to a growing body of evidence giving us great concern that pollution occurring in our region is increasing the risk of children developing neurodevelopmental disorders."

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh presented an abstract of the study at the annual conference of the American Association for Aerosol Research.

http://www.autismspeaks.org offers families information on autism spectrum disorder including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

Sources: Elaine Labalme, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pitt-study-air-pollution-linked-to-autism-in-southwestern-pennsylvania-361780991.html

Your Baby

Should Women Eat Fish While Pregnant?

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Fish are high in several beneficial nutrients, including some that are related to healthy brain development. But several organizations, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommend that women who are pregnant limit the amount of fish they eat.

The reason is that most fish and shellfish contain low-levels of methylmercury.

Almost all people have at least trace amounts of methylmercury in their tissues, reflecting the organic compound’s widespread presence in the environment. Fetuses, infants and children are the most vulnerable to the possible adverse effects of mercury exposure.

One of the major concerns of the medical community and mothers-to-be is the possibility of a link between eating fish that contains mercury, and their child developing autism.  

A new study addresses that concern and says that children exposed to low levels of mercury in the womb because their mothers ate large amounts of fish, don’t appear to be at an increased risk for autism.

The new findings from more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles -- a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean -- found no such link, the study authors said.

"This study shows no evidence of a correlation between low level mercury exposure and autism spectrum-like behaviors among children whose mothers ate, on average, up to 12 meals of fish each week during pregnancy," study lead author Edwin van Wijngaarden, associate professor in the public health sciences department at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said in a medical center news release.

"These findings contribute to the growing body of literature that suggest that exposure to the chemical does not play an important role in the onset of these behaviors," he added.

One autism expert added a note of caution, however.

"The study found no link between high mercury levels and later autism spectrum disorder behaviors. However, this should not be taken to mean that high levels of mercury are safe to ingest," said Alycia Hallday, senior director of environmental and clinical science at the advocacy group Autism Speaks.

"Other studies comparing this [Seychelles] cohort to those in other parts of the world indicate that this cohort may be spared from many adverse effects because it is consumed with nutrient-rich ocean fish," she explained.

For the study, the researchers initially determined the level of prenatal mercury exposure by analyzing the mothers' hair samples. Then the researchers used two questionnaires -- one given to parents, the other to the children's teachers -- to see if the children showed signs of autism spectrum-like behaviors. The tests included questions on language skills, communication skills and repetitive behaviors. While the tests don't give a definitive diagnosis, they are used widely in the United States as an initial screening tool and may indicate the need for additional testing, the researchers said.

The study also noted the concerns of and limitations recommended by the FDA and other organizations.

"This study shows no consistent association in children with mothers with mercury levels that were six to 10 times higher than those found in the U.S. and Europe. This is a sentinel population and if (the association between low-level mercury exposure and autism) does not exist here than it probably does not exist," Philip Davidson, principal investigator of the Seychelles Child Development Study and professor emeritus in pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in the news release.

The finding lends support to an emerging belief that the good may outweigh the possible bad when it comes to eating fish during pregnancy. Specifically, if the mercury did not harm brain development at the levels of exposure experienced by the children in this study, then the benefits of the nutrients in fish may counteract or surpass the potential negative effects of mercury, the study authors said.

So, which fish have “low” or “high” mercury content? The American Pregnancy Association provides this list on their website.

Highest Mercury

AVOID

  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Mackerel (king)
  • Tuna (bigeye, Ahi)

High Mercury

Eat no more than three 6-oz servings per month

  • Sea Bass (Chilean)
  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
  • Tuna (canned, white albacore) See tuna chart below
  • Tuna (Yellow fin)

Lower Mercury

Eat no more than six 6-oz servings per month

  • Bass (Striped, Black)
  • Carp
  • Cod (Alaskan)
  • Croaker (White Pacific)
  • Halibut ( Pacific and Atlantic) Jacksmelt ( Silverside)
  • Lobster
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Monkfish
  • Perch (freshwater)
  • Sablefish
  • Skate
  • Snapper
  • Sea Trout (Weakfish)
  • Tuna (canned, chunk light)
  • Tuna (Skipjack)

Lowest Mercury

Enjoy two 6-oz servings per week

  • Anchovies
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Crab (Domestic)
  • Crawfish/crayfish
  • Croaker
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Mackerel (N Atlantic, Chub)
  • Mullet
  • Oysters
  • Perch (ocean)
  • Plaice
  • Salmon (Canned, Fresh)
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Shad (American)
  • Shrimp
  • Sole
  • Squid (Calamari)
  • Tilapia
  • Trout (freshwater)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

The study was published online July 23 in the journal Epidemiology

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/pregnancy-information-29/pregnancy-news-543/breaking-brief-7-23-mercury-autism-epidemiology-urmc-release-678533.html

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/fishmercury.htm

http://www.epa.gov/hg/effects.htm

Your Baby

Danger! Lidocaine and Teething Babies

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If you’ve ever received a prescription for lidocaine, you might be tempted to try it on your teething baby to ease the pain. Lidocaine solution is sometimes used to reduce a child’s gag reflex during dental procedures and to treat mouth and throat ulcers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents about using a lidocaine solution as a pain reliever on babies’ gums, saying it can lead to death and serious injuries in infants and toddlers.

"When too much viscous lidocaine is given to infants and young children or they accidentally swallow too much, it can result in seizures, severe brain injury, and problems with the heart," the statement said.

Overdoses or accidental swallowing have led to infants and children being hospitalized or dying, the FDA said.

While the number is not high, some parents or caregivers have tried it as a gum pain reliever during teething. There have been 22 reports this year of serious complications, including deaths, in children ages 5 months to 3 to 5 years who were given lidocaine or accidently swallowed it.

The agency will require a boxed warning on the label for prescription oral viscous lidocaine 2 percent solution to highlight that it should not be used for teething pain, the FDA said in a statement.

Instead of lidocaine, the FDA urges parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatricians' (AAP) recommendations for treating teething pain. They call for using a teething ring, or gently massaging the child's gums with your finger.

Other products containing benzocaine are sometimes used for oral pain relief. The FDA recommends against using these products for children under 2 years of age except under a physician’s supervision. Like viscous lidocaine, benzocaine is a local anesthetic.

The AAP offers these tips for helping your child through the discomfort of teething.

  • Give her firm objects to chew on—teething rings or hard, unsweetened teething crackers. Frozen teething toys should not be used; extreme cold can injure your baby’s mouth and cause more discomfort.
  • If your baby is clearly uncomfortable, talk to your pediatrician about a possible course of action. Your pediatrician may suggest that you give a small dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

The first thing a parent wants to do when they see their baby in pain is to find a way to relieve the discomfort. Teething is one of those times that can be trying for everyone involved. Babies can start teething as early as 3 months.

Pain relievers that are used on a baby’s gums aren’t typically very helpful; a teething baby drools so much that the medication is quickly washed away. In addition, pediatricians warn that such medications can numb the back of the throat and interfere with your baby’s ability to swallow.

Rubbing your baby’s gums or providing a safe teething ring can help ease your infant’s pain until those pesky teeth break through and the gums heal.

Sources: Ian Simpson, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/26/us-usa-fda-teething-idUSKBN0F129120140626

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/Teething-Pain.aspx

Your Baby

Do Helmets Correct “Flat Head” Syndrome?

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The good news is that more parents are placing their babies are their back to sleep therefore reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  The risk of SIDS is much higher for babies who sleep on their side or stomach. These positions can put your baby’s face directly into the mattress or sleeping area causing them to suffocate.

One side effect from following this important habit for baby’s safety, is that the number of babies with what’s known as "flat head" syndrome has increased. 

One controversial treatment for treating flat head syndrome has been for the baby to wear a specially constructed helmet. These helmets are typically expensive.

A new study has looked at whether the helmets are actually effective and determined that they are about as good as letting the baby’s head naturally reshape. 

Researchers in the Netherlands looked at 84 babies who had moderate to severe flattening of the head. Starting when they were 6 months old, half of the babies wore a custom-made, rigid, closely fitting helmet for 23 hours a day over six months. The others received no treatment.

By the time the children were 2 years old, there was no significant difference in the degree of improvement in head shape between the two groups, nor in the number of them who made a full recovery to normal head shape -- 25.6 percent of those who wore helmets and 22.5 percent of those who did not, according to a journal news release.

Babies who wore the helmets also experienced side effects such as skin irritation (96%), an unpleasant smell (76%) and pain (33%). Cuddling with the baby was noted as being more difficult as well.

When the children reached 2 years of age, parents in both groups reported that they were generally satisfied with the shape of their child's head. Among parents whose babies wore helmets, the average satisfaction score was 4.6 out of 5, and among those whose babies had not received the treatment the score was 4.4 out of 5, the study found.

"Based on the effectiveness of helmet therapy, and the high prevalence of side effects and high costs, we discourage the use of a helmet as a standard treatment for healthy infants with moderate to severe skull deformation," concluded researcher Renske van Wijk, at the University of Twente, in Enschede, and colleagues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that the majority of flat head syndrome cases can be treated with physical therapy and other noninvasive measures.

The study was published in the online edition of BMJ.

If your baby’s head has become misshapen from lying on his or her back, talk with your family doctor or pediatrician about what therapies might be helpful as your little grows out of the infant stage.

It’s still very important to make sure your infant sleeps on his or her back.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20140502/helmets-not-helpful-for-babies-with-flat-head-syndrome-study

Your Baby

Co-sleeping Infant Deaths on the Rise

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Some parents prefer the closeness of sleeping with their infant during naps and through the night; often called co-sleeping, bed sharing or family bed. However, the facts support that using a crib is much safer for baby.

Texas, like some other states, is seeing a dramatic rise in infant deaths related to co-sleeping. So far this year in Texas, there have been 164 cases reported, which is on pace to surpass the record of 174 co-sleeping deaths investigated by CPS in 2011.

The state has responded by launching a $100,000 ad campaign to discourage co-sleeping between parents and babies.

“The main message is we want parents to create a safe sleeping environment for their babies,” said Paul Zimmerman, media specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

Children under one year old are at the most risk of dying during co-sleeping according to the DFPS. Of the 164 deaths reported so far in 2014, 160 were under one.

Babies aren’t strong enough to move themselves if they end up face down in a pillow, blanket, arm or chest.  The most common cause of death during co-sleeping is when the parent accidently rolls over on the child.

The DFPS website provides the “ABCs of Infant Sleep.”

  • A - Babies should sleep alone.
  • B - On their backs with no blankets or bedding.
  • C  - In a crib and cool (70 degrees).
  • S  - In a smoke-free environment.

“These are preventable tragedies, and risk can be minimized when parents/caregivers follow some common sense do’s and don’ts,” Zimmerman said.

Other suggestions to help avoid infant suffocation are on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) website. 

  • Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet that meets current safety standards. For more about crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov.
  • Place the crib in an area that is always smoke - free.
  • Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows, or cushions.
  • Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby.
  • Loose bedding, such as sheets and blankets, should not be used as these items can impair the infant’s ability to breathe if they are close to his or her face. Sleep clothing, such as sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are better alternatives to blankets.

Co-sleeping advocates say that there are benefits to sharing the bed with an infant such as babies go to sleep quicker and sleep longer. Breastfeeding is easier and mothers are more rested. They often recommend the same safeguards such as a firm mattress and no toys or pillows.

Pediatricians and other childhood health experts, on the other hand, believe that co-sleeping is too risky and that these types of infant deaths are totally avoidable by placing a crib or a bassinette next to the bed instead.

Sources: Blake Ursch, http://lubbockonline.com/health/2014-07-04/texas-launches-campaign-curb-infant-sleeping-deaths#.U8ghVRZUMpE

http://www.healthychildren.org

http://www.dfps.state.tx.us

Your Baby

From Breast to Bottle; An Adventure

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Ah yes, I remember breastfeeding my baby.

As a young and somewhat naïve mother, it was like stepping onto foreign soil. A place I’d never visited before.

For me, the most unexpected part of this ancient ritual was how painful it was at first.  I’d heard about the bonding it would bring, the day and night hours required and how if I ate certain foods before feeding, my baby could end up with a bad bout of gas.

However, no one mentioned that it was going to hurt like crazy until my nipples “toughened up,” (as my doctor was fond of saying) or how my breasts would become milk waterfalls cascading through my blouse while grocery shopping. Eventually, I got the hang of it and it began to feel like a natural extension of being a mom.

When it came time to transition to bottle-feeding, I actually felt a little sad about letting go of what had become a special time with my baby girl. Her fuzzy little head resting against my breast and her curious eyes watching my every expression as she ate.  We had a lot of one-sided conversations with me telling her about my day and her sucking, burping and falling asleep.

Alas though, one cannot breastfeed forever. So I began again with learning how to keep my baby well nourished while trying to figure out how much formula to give her and how to warm a bottle without scalding us both.

I breastfed for about 5 months – give or take a few weeks. Making the changeover left me feeling a little guilty. My little one seemed to really dislike the replacement bottle, so we did it in stages. I also added breast milk to the bottle at first so she would recognize the taste. It was not a smooth transition.

We ultimately came to an agreement that she would drink from the bottle if I would rock her and sing to her and make funny faces. Another caveat was we’d have to do it in short spurts of time – she would refuse-then accept, refuse-accept. I think it was so that she could feel like she had a little control over the whole unsettling situation. Agreed.

Shortly after we started working on the bottle arrangement, my pediatrician suggested that adding small amounts of solid foods to her diet might also be helpful in weaning her off the breasts.

My first response to this perfectly sane idea was... “What real foods? Biscuits and gravy? Scrambled eggs and toast? Shouldn’t I put these foods in a blender or something? I don’t think she can eat them straight-up.”

“Uh, no” she responded calmly. “Let’s start with a small amount of baby cereal.”

And so, a new tradition began. Here’s how it went.

Make a little baby cereal. Put it on a tiny little spoon and attempt to delicately get it in her tightly shut mouth.

Taste the baby cereal (to make sure it is not too hot, not too cold.)

Stir cereal and try again to get the itty-bitty spoon into her itty-bitty securely shut mouth.

Lead by example.

“Watch mommy. This is really good cereal. Mmmm – I think this is the best cereal I’ve ever eaten.” Actually it’s not bad.

Stick finger in cereal and rub on baby’s squeezed tight-as-a drum, never to be opened mouth.

Switch to a much larger spoon and start scooping.

“You’re missing out on some amazing cereal, sweetie. Yum, yum, yum.”

Repeat as necessary.

“Oh look… it’s all gone. Good job!”

It took awhile to finally make the switch from breast to bottle. It was quite an experience for both of us. Two important goals were eventually accomplished; my sweet baby survived and flourished and my breasts’ finally quit hurting.

If you’re breastfeeding, someday you’ll introduce a bottle, sippy-cup or spoon to your child. Expect a battle, it’s ok. Keep a grip on patience and humor. You’ll need them both.

Warm compresses can ease the discomfort of sore breasts and gradually nursing or pumping less will signal your body to stop producing copious amounts of milk.

I’d recommend keeping a small towel in your purse (speaking from experience.) You might also want to stash an extra shirt in the car – and a bra -just sayin.

And you know what? You can ask for help. Have daddy or grandparents, other family members or good friends hold the bottle and make funny faces. Sometimes it actually helps to have someone without your familiar breasts, smell and voice take part in introducing the bottle to your baby.

Every mother who has breastfed has her own stories to tell when it came time to wean her infant. You’ll have yours and most likely you’ll smile and say softly – Ah yes, I remember breastfeeding (and baby cereal). 

Your Baby

Recall: 600,000 Angelcare Baby Monitors After Two Deaths

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Angelcare Monitors Inc.®, of Quebec, Canada, is announcing a voluntary recall to provide cord covers for 600,000 Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitors with Sensor Pads. The cord attached to the baby monitor’s sensor pad is placed under the crib mattress, which poses a strangulation risk if the child pulls the cord into the crib and it becomes wrapped around the neck. 

Angelcare and CPSC have received reports of two infant cord strangulation deaths. In November 2011, a 13-month-old female died in San Diego, California, and, in August 2004, an 8-month-old female died in Salem, Oregon.  In both fatalities, the infant pulled the cord from the sensor pads, into the crib. In addition, there have been two reports of infants who became entangled in cords of Angelcare baby monitor models, which did not result in fatalities. In these incidents, it could not be determined if the “sensor pad cord” or the “monitor cord” was involved in the incident. 

The recall involves the Movement and Sound Monitor manufactured by Angelcare. This design of baby monitor includes a unique sensor pad placed inside the crib, under the mattress, to monitor movement of the baby.  An electrical cord about 11 feet long is permanently connected from the sensor pad to the nursery monitor unit. A cord within reach of a baby inside the crib creates the hazard. The cord can be pulled into the crib and can wrap around the child’s neck. The recall involves ALL versions of Angelcare sensor monitors including model numbers that did not include rigid cord covers offered in the remedy, such as:

  • AC1100
  • AC201
  • AC300
  • AC401
  • AC601
  • 49255

To find the model number, look on the back of the nursery monitor unit. The monitors were manufactured between 1999 and 2013. 

Angelcare is providing consumers with a repair kit that includes rigid protective cord covers through which the sensor pad cords can be threaded, a new, permanent electric cord-warning label about the strangulation risk, and revised instructions. 

The recalled baby monitors were sold at Babies R Us/Toys R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Meijer, Sears, Walmart, Amazon.com, Target.com, Overstock.com, and nearly 70 small baby specialty stores, from October 1999 through September 2013 for about $100to $300. 

Consumers should immediately make sure cords are placed out of reach of the child and contact Angelcare toll-free at (855) 355-2643 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.angelcarebaby.com to order the free repair kit.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/Angelcare-Recalls-to-Repair-Movement-and-Sound-Baby-Monitors-After-Two-Deaths/

 Angelcare Movement and Sound Baby Monitor

A hand holds the cord that can be pulled into the crib.

Your Baby

Teething Toy Recalled Due to Choking Hazard

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Infantino, the maker of the Go Gaga Squeeze and Teethe Coco the Monkey teething toy, has issued a recall on the teething product.  It’s the tail of the toy that can pose a choking hazard to a small child.

The squeaking toy is made of soft orange rubber and is shaped like a monkey. The toy measures 4.5 inches tall by 5 inches long and is intended for ages newborn and up. “Infantino” is marked on the back toward the rear and model number 206-647 is marked on the inside of the rear left leg

The firm has received seven reports of infants choking or gagging on the monkey’s tail. No injuries have been reported.

The toy was sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide and online from December 2012 through January 2014 for about $13.

Consumers can contact Infantino toll-free at (888) 808-3111 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at www.infantino.com and click on Recall Information on the home page.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled products away from infants and may contact Infantino if they’d like to receive a free replacement toy.

Infantino teething toy recall

Infantino recall teething toy

Your Baby

Starting Babies on Allergy Related Foods Early

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In a recent KidsDr.com website article, Pediatrician, Sue Hubbard, writes about “Food Myths  & Your Baby.”  Dr. Hubbard emphasizes the need to introduce a variety of foods to children when they start eating solid foods. The myths relate to a nonexistent “forbidden” foods list parents should avoid in order to prevent their child from having an allergic reaction. 

New recommendations, from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), support Dr. Hubbard’s encouragement of including foods such as wheat, milk, eggs, fruits, nuts and shellfish in your child’s diet.

In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued guidelines that suggested children should put off having milk until age 1, eggs until age 2 and peanuts, shellfish and nuts until age 3. However, in 2008 the AAP revised those guidelines citing little evidence that delays prevented the development of food allergies. It didn’t say when and how to introduce such foods though.

The AAAAI’s recommendations address those concerns by suggesting foods that are considered highly allergic be slowly introduced –in small amounts- after first foods such as cereals, fruits and vegetables have been eaten and tolerated. Babies can be introduced to the more allergic type foods as long as they are prepared correctly. Foods should be mushy and easy for an infant to eat or in the case of eggs and fruits cut into very small pieces.

"There's been more studies that find that if you introduce them early it may actually prevent food allergy," said David Fleischer, co-author of the article and a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. "We need to get the message out now to pediatricians, primary-care physicians and specialists that these allergenic foods can be introduced early."

The theory behind introducing foods, that are considered the most likely to cause an allergic reaction, early and in small doses is that children may actually be able to build up immunity to them. If introduction is delayed, their immune systems may treat them as foreign substances and attack them, resulting in an allergy.

Dr. Fleischer believes more study results are needed before there is any conclusive evidence that early introduction actually prevents allergies. There are several trials currently under way and the highly anticipated results should be available next year.

Lots of children suffer from food allergies. In the U.S. approximately 6 million children or 8% have one or more food allergies. They also seem to be on the rise and experts are not sure why. One possible explanation from some experts is that westernized countries have become more hygienic. Children don't have the same exposure to germs, which affects the development of the immune system.

Vitamin D may also play a role. In a study out this week in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers took blood samples from more than 5,000 babies and found that those with low vitamin D levels were three times more likely to have a food allergy.

The new recommendations from the AAAAI committee say an allergist should be consulted in cases when an infant has eczema that is difficult to control, or an existing food allergy. For children who have a sibling with a peanut allergy—and have a 7% greater risk of a peanut allergy—parents may request an evaluation but the risks of introducing peanut at home in infancy are low, the recommendations noted.

Food allergies can cause severe reactions and should never be taken lightly. If you are interested in introducing highly allergic food into your child’s diet – to give your child’s immune system a boost- talk with your pediatrician about his or hers recommended method.

Sources: http://www.kidsdr.com/daily-dose/food-myths-your-baby

Sumathi Reddy, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324662404578334423524696016.html

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