New Zealand health officials, concerned about rising food allergy rates, have introduced new guidelines aimed at preventing childhood food allergies. The new recommendations follow recent research that has found the foods eaten by toddlers affects their risk of developing food allergies.
Under the new guidelines, it is mandatory for parents and guardians to introduce solid foods to their baby sooner than has previously been recommended. The National Health and Medical Research Council is expected to release new guidelines for infant feeding which, they believe, will reduce the number of new childhood food allergy cases. The full guidelines are expected to include earlier introduction of foods, as it is thought that babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months or longer have a higher risk of developing food allergies.
Childhood Food Allergies a Significant Issue
Childhood food allergies are a huge problem in the country, overwhelming its medical resources. Parents must wait up to two years for their child to be tested for food allergies in a public hospital. Some parents have begun feeding their toddlers peanut butter in a hospital parking lot in case their child experiences an allergic reaction and needs medical attention. The number of adrenaline pens (such as EpiPens) prescribed by doctors has quadrupled in the past decade.