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TODAY   |  March 06, 2013

New rules for testing for food allergies in kids

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recently released specific guidelines for parents regarding how and when to introduce new foods to safely test their babies for allergies. Pediatrician Alanna Levine discusses the new rules.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> news for parents, specific new guidelines for how and when to introduce certain foods to infants who are at risk for food allergies . dr. levine is a pediatrician and spokesperson for the american academy of pediatrics . good morning. nice to see you.

>> good morning.

>> let's get to the specifics. do these new guidelines contradict what we, as parents, have been told prior to this?

>> back in 2000 , the american pediatrics announced guidelines to wait and delay high allergen foods. however in 2008 they revised those guidelines and these new 2011 guidelines reinforce the 2008 that you don't need to delay the introduction of food that is typically cause allergies.

>> a child as young as 1, 2, and 3 you can introduce to high-allergen foods. is this an attempt to detect whether they actually have food allergies or by introducing them at an early age can they build up an immunity?

>> you can actually introduce these children now to 6 months per the new guidelines. the reason to do this is because the science doesn't support the evidence that delaying it is actually going to have a protective effect. you have children and you want to give them a well- balanced diet of lots of foods. there's no reason to withhold those foods if it's not going to cause a problem.

>> let's look at the suggestions here. these are important for parents. start with easy foods, cereal, yellow, orange vegetables. introduce potential allergens like peanuts, dairy at home and increase if no reaction. which raises the question, what would a typical reaction look and feel like?

>> reactions can be varied. generally the first reaction tends to be milder. you can see a rash, like hives that are splotchy, cause itching. more severe would be difficult breathing or wheezing, feeling of throat swelling and can progress to even a life-threatening anaphylaxis.

>> introduce a new food every three to five days. if there is a reaction, consult a doctor. we have a lot of e-mails already. let me give you one of those from elaina johnson barbaree. is there a genetic component involved that can be tested for during pregnancy for instance, knowing very early to avoid dairy or nuts even during pregnancy?

>> there is a genetic component, first-degree relative has an allergy that there's an increase risk that your child will have an allergy. currently there aren't any tests we're doing in pregnancy, but that would be a great thing to know and study for the future.

>> are food studies on the rise?

>> they are on the rise. we're not exactly sure why. there are a lot of theories. one interesting theory is the hygiene hypothesis . we're living in such a cleaner world now, and the body, immune system is reacting to things that are harmless in the environment instead of things that are harmful.

>> very interesting information for parents out there. dr. levine, appreciate