You are possibly planning a pregnancy or are already expecting and are concerned that your baby may develop allergies once they are born. There could be a family history of eczema, asthma, hay fever or chronic sinusitis and you want to avoid your new addition also battling these debilitating conditions.
What are the chances?
Allergies in kids is on the rise. Schools are increasingly choosing to be nut-free and preschools stick to a low allergen menu. Allergies to peanut, egg, milk, soy, wheat, sesame and seafood have been around since the second World War and their prevalence is rising.
What we know is that is if one parent has an allergy there is a 30-50% chance of allergy and if both parents have allergies that climbs up to a 60-80% chance of allergies in kids.
What you can do
Should you avoid eating high allergen foods?
If there is a strong family history of allergies you may not be sure about whether you should avoid eating high allergenic foods such as eggs, wheat, dairy and soy products while pregnant. So far there are no studies to support eating a low allergenic diet during pregnancy. However if you do have a baby with eczema there has been a significant babies signs and symptoms of eczema.
Take a probiotic during pregnancy and breastfeeding to reduce the chance of allergy onset in babies. Allergies occur when the immune system creates an antibody response against a food or inhalant. Immune regulation is determined by our gut flora. Having good bacteria in your gut is protective against allergy onset. Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) strain of bacteria is the probiotic to take. It has been found to reduce the incidence of allergy in kids.
Support your gut bugs
Look after your gut health before, during and after pregnancy as your gut bacteria will influence your baby’s gut flora. You can support your gut by eating a variety of high fibre foods such as legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Give antibiotics a miss
Science is beginning to catch up with this one. Avoiding repeat courses antibiotics for you and baby where possible could help prevent allergy onset. Antibiotics tend to be broad spectrum meaning they wipe out all bacteria not just the bad bugs. This is particularly hard on a developing gut microbiome. Always do the risk assessment and alternatives to antibiotic treatment for yourself and your child.
Aim for a vaginal birth where possible. This is not always possible for medical reasons but by having your baby delivered vaginally they are receiving their first inoculation of gut bacteria and this sets the scene for them establishing their own healthy and strong microbiome that will reduce the likelihood of developing allergies.
Breast feed if you can. Babies who are formula fed have more allergies than babies that are not. Breastfeeding boosts baby’s gut bacteria so they create an immune defense against developing allergies.