Practical Challenges and Considerations for Early Introduction of Potential Food Allergens for Prevention of Food Allergy
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Recent randomized controlled trials aimed at the prevention of food allergy have led to sweeping changes in food allergy prevention guidelines. Emphasis is now on the introduction of potential food allergens, particularly peanut and egg, rather than avoidance. Although guidelines recommend against delaying the introduction of other potential allergens, there remains little or no evidence of the benefit of their early introduction. Parents and physicians alike report a need for greater guidance and resources on early potential allergen introduction in the complementary feeding period. A thorough understanding of early introduction literature, current prevention guidelines, and infant nutrition will empower physicians to address patient needs and concerns both when advice is established as effective and where uncertainty remains. We discuss the state of the science, compare recommendations between guidelines, and provide practical options to introduce allergenic foods, alongside other complementary foods, within the first year of life. We include a review of the available literature, including review and suggestions of potential doses of food allergens, and the first published comparison of commercially available products and homemade early introduction foods to help clinicians support their patients. We address the nutritional, dietary, and practical considerations of introducing food allergens in the first year of life while adhering to infant feeding guidelines. Finally, given the limitations of existing guidelines, we review the need for shared decision-making between physicians and parents regarding early allergen introduction.
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