Did you know that one of the biggest risk factors influencing babies to develop a food allergy is dry, broken, sensitive skin (often diagnosed as eczema or atopic dermatitis)? Research shows that babies with eczema can be over 600% more likely to develop a food allergy.1
The development of food allergies is believed to be driven by topical exposure to invisible, ever-present food particles in the environment (like peanut dust) through skin that is broken due to eczema.
Here are two critical steps you can take to help minimize food allergy development*:
1.) Create healthy, protective skin
Dry, broken skin is not just uncomfortable and itchy; it leaves us vulnerable. That’s because food particles in the air, on furniture or other home surfaces, in a cream with nut oils - even on a parent’s hands - can enter the body through skin cracks.
When this happens, the baby’s immune system can become sensitized to that food as opposed to tolerant to it. That means that sometimes when a food is exposed through the skin the body is trained to react to that food as a foreign object or food allergens.
2.) Use the tummy to properly expose your baby to foods
While it's important to avoid exposure to food particles through the skin, it's equally important to increase food exposure through the tummy, where it's meant to happen. That's because as a baby digests food, the proper immune response occurs. In other words, her body learns to accept food as food, rather than react to it as a food allergen.
We know that early (as early as 4 - 6 months) and regular dietary exposure to food - specifically the ones often associated with allergies - may reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to that food.2
By understanding the environmental factors for developing a food allergy and taking some simple-yet-important steps - like taking good care of your baby’s skin and exposing them to potentially allergenic foods through the tummy -you can help get your baby's belly accustomed to common and diverse foods.__________________________________________________________________________
1 Martin PE, et al. Which infants with eczema are at risk for food allergy? Results from a population-based cohort. Clin Exp Allergy. 2015;45(1):255-264.
2 Du Toit G, et al; LEAP Study Team. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(9):803-813.