Posts Tagged ‘solid foods’

Update! New guidelines on how to prevent peanut allergies in your baby

Monday, January 9th, 2017

peanut butterPeanut allergies have become a hot topic and for good reason. These allergies can be severe and lifelong.

I remember when I was in school, before my math class we would have to dispose of all peanut products before stepping into the room because a student had a peanut allergy. Even when all products were thrown in the garbage, if the food got in the air, it caused her to have a reaction and she needed to leave class immediately. For those people with a peanut allergy, it can seriously affect their everyday lives.

But good news has just arrived. New clinical guidelines have been issued to help prevent the development of a peanut allergy in children.

Why was there a change in the recommendations?

A new study involving more than 600 babies ages 4-11 months found that those infants who avoided peanut products had a higher rate of peanut allergy than those who ate peanut-products.

Babies and children (up to age 5)  who regularly ate peanut products were less likely to develop a peanut allergy. Specifically, high risk infants (babies who had severe eczema or inflammation of the skin and/or an egg allergy) had an 81% reduction in the development of a peanut allergy.

What are the new guidelines?

  1. Infants who are at high risk of developing a peanut allergy and already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both, should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diet as early as 4-6 months of age to reduce the risk of developing the allergy. But be sure to speak with your baby’s provider before beginning this process.
  2. Infants with mild to moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets around 6 months of age to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.
  3. Infants without eczema or any food allergy can have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets at any time after solids have successfully been introduced.

Important:  In all cases, your baby should start other solid foods before introducing peanut-containing foods. Never give whole peanuts or peanut pieces to children under the age of four. Be sure to speak with your baby’s health care provider before making any changes to your baby’s diet. For more information about peanut allergies, see this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Have questions about these new guidelines? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Infant rice cereal and arsenic

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Feeding baby homemade foodRice cereal is often a staple of an infant’s diet. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that relative to their weight, people consume the most rice at 8 months of age. The FDA recently proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion for the amount of arsenic that can be present in infant rice cereal.

How does arsenic get into rice?

Arsenic is a metal. Small amounts of arsenic are normally found in water, soil, and air. Arsenic gets into rice because as the rice grows, it absorbs the arsenic from the environment. While arsenic is found in other crops, rice tends to absorb arsenic more easily because of how it is grown.

What problems can exposure to arsenic cause?

According to the FDA, exposure to arsenic “may result in a child’s decreased performance on certain developmental tests that measure learning.” If a pregnant woman is exposed to high levels of arsenic, it can cause problems like miscarriage and birth defects.

How can you limit your baby’s exposure to arsenic?

The FDA tested 76 samples of infant rice cereals on the market and found that nearly half of them — 47 percent — already meet the proposed limit. Moreover, most of the samples tested — 78 percent — were either at or below 110 parts per billion.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), here are some ways that you can reduce your baby’s exposure to arsenic:

  • Breastfeed. It’s best to feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Once you start to offer solid foods, breast milk is still the best food for your baby during the first year of life.
  • Feed your baby different types of iron-fortified cereals. While some rice cereal is OK, you can offer other options as well, including oat, barely, and multigrain. Rice cereal does not need to be the first cereal you offer your baby. Just make sure to watch for allergic reactions whenever you introduce a new food.
  • Limit fruit juices. The AAP has recommended limiting intake of all sweet drinks, including juice.
  • Avoid brown rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is often used as a sweetener in processed foods.
  • Drink cow’s milk and do not substitute with rice milk. Dairy-sensitive children can be given other sources of calcium. Talk to your baby’s provider about the best choice.

What if I’m pregnant?

Pregnant woman should eat a varied diet with an assortment of grains, such as wheat, oats, and barely, as well.  Some studies also suggest that cooking rice in excess water (from six to 10 parts water to one part rice), and draining the excess water, can reduce from 40 to 60 percent of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice — although this method may also remove some key nutrients.

Both the AAP and FDA encourage people of all ages to eat a varied and well-balanced diet. Rice and infant rice cereal can be a part of that diet, but they should not be the main source of nutrients.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

First solid food

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Most babies are ready to eat solid foods at 4 to 6 months of age. And for 20854955_thbmost babies it doesn’t matter what the first solid food is. Traditionally, we start with single-grain cereals such as rice or oats. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is no medical evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage for your baby. For example, your pediatrician might recommend starting vegetables before fruits, but there’s no evidence that your baby will develop a dislike for vegetables if fruit is given first. Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and the order of introducing foods does not change this.

Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually give him other foods. Wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and contact your baby’s doctor.

Within a few months of starting solid foods, your baby’s daily diet should include a variety of foods that includes: breast milk and/or formula, meats, cereal, vegetables, and fruits. Talk to your pediatrician about when you should introduce eggs and fish. Some might say to avoid these foods during the first year of life because of allergic reactions. The AAP also states that there’s no evidence that introducing eggs or fish after 4 to 6 months of age determines whether your baby will be allergic to them.