Latest allergy advice to mothers should eat Up to 3 serves of oily fish per week during pregnancy and feed peanuts to infants.

Written by ausTRAINING on 20/01/2017

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), the peak body for allergy and critical immunology in Australia, has updated the infant feeding advice and guidelines for allergy prevention in infants. Allergic diseases have more than doubled in western countries over the last 25 years. The most common allergic conditions in children are food allergies, eczema, asthma and hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Up to 2 in 5 children in Australia and New Zealand are affected by allergic disorders some time during childhood, with 1 in 5 having current symptoms”, says Prof Campbell.

The reason for the continued rise in allergic diseases in developed countries is complex and research in this area is ongoing. Although children with a family history of allergy are at higher risk of allergy, many children with no family history of allergy also develop allergy. Therefore, these guidelines are relevant for all families. Many previous allergy prevention strategies have been ineffective, including delayed introduction of allergenic foods.

Important issues addressed in the guidelines focus on maternal diet during pregnancy, breastfeeding and the introduction of complementary foods to infants.

These include:

  1. Up to 3 serves of oily fish per week during pregnancy and breastfeeding may be beneficial in preventing eczema in early life.
  2. There is no consistent, convincing evidence to support that hydrolysed formulas (usually labelled HA or hypoallergenic) assists in allergy prevention in infants or children.
  3. There is evidence that for infants at high risk of food allergies, such as those with severe eczema or who already had a food allergy reaction to egg, introduction of regular peanut before 12 months of age can reduce subsequent peanut allergy.
  4. It is not recommended that infants are fed raw egg, however there is moderate evidence for the introduction of cooked egg into the diet of infants with a family history of allergy before 8 months of age to try and reduced the risk of egg allergy.

ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice and Guidelines for Allergy Prevention in Infants were last updated in 2010 and aim to provide families in Australia and New Zealand with a summary of evidence based information on infant feeding. This includes an explanation as to why families may choose to introduce solid foods to their infants from 4-6 months (whilst breastfeeding) and not delay the introduction of potentially allergenic foods, to prevent allergy.

Full versions of the ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice and Guidelines for Allergy Prevention in Children are available from the ASCIA website: