Scientists are making major headway in the race to prevent allergies. Below are three ways new parents can take advantage of the latest findings
1. KEEP THE DOG
Living with a cat or dog during their first year of life cut babies’ risk of developing a pet allergy almost in half, a study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy has found. Year one is the magic window (exposure after 12 months didn’t have the same impact), and the benefits were cat- and dog-specific. (Alas, the effect of living with smaller animals like hamsters and bunnies was not studied.)
2. NURSE(IF YOU CAN)
A new study found that babies who had been breast-fed for four to six months were less likely than formula-fed babies to develop allergies to cats and dogs by age four. Breast milk carries antibodies and good bacteria that are vital for developing a baby’s immune system, says study author Dr Christine Cole Johnson. Breast-feeding could possibly help prevent other allergies too; more research needs to be done, says Johnson.
3. FEED ‘EM PEANUTS
Aim for two grams (about a spoonful of peanut butter) three times a week, beginning when your child starts on solids. For a recent British study, some infants were fed peanut protein regularly, while others stayed away from it entirely. After five years, 1,9% of the peanut eaters were allergic compared with 13,7% of the abstainers. (If your baby has another food allergy or eczema, talk to your paediatrician first.)