Is There a Recommended Age for Introducing Potentially Allergenic Foods to Children?

Published: April 26, 2019
Introducing potentially allergenic foods to a child.Photo: Getty

Q: Is there a recommended age for introducing shellfish and fish to a child with dairy and egg allergies? I’m a bit nervous about the prospect, but don’t want to keep foods out of my son’s diet.

Dr. Sharma: There are no specific recommended ages at this time for introducing potentially allergenic foods to children, but in general, delaying their introduction is not advised.

Because of your son’s known allergies to dairy and egg, he is considered “higher-risk” for developing other food allergies. Yet there is no observed increased rate of seafood allergy in the medical literature among children with dairy or egg allergies.

Therefore, most allergists might recommend trying a small amount of a given allergenic food after age four to six months, once other solid foods (such as fruits, vegetables and grains) have been introduced. This should be done at home, at a time when the child may be observed for any signs of reaction. If that small amount is tolerated, then gradually increasing amounts may be introduced.

With a child with moderate-to-severe eczema and/or a known egg allergy, it would be recommended to perform allergy testing before introducing certain foods, such as peanut. Be sure to consult with your son’s allergist to devise a specific plan for the introduction of seafood to his diet.

Dr. Sharma is an allergist, clinical researcher and associate professor of pediatrics. He is Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. and Director of the Food Allergy Program. He co-authors “The Food Allergy Experts” column in Allergic Living‘s e-magazine. Questions submitted will be considered for answer in the e-magazine.

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