Webinar recording: Food allergies in babies under 6 months

Webinar on allergies in babies under six months

This webinar, held on 23 May 2024, was an initiative by the National Allergy Council and Connecting the Dots – A National Nutrition Service. The webinar was presented by Dr Preeti Joshi, a paediatric clinical immunology/allergy specialist and Dr Merryn Netting, an advanced paediatric allergy dietitian.


Curious – do we know why Australia is the capital of allergies in children in the world?

There are different recommendations regarding what age to start solids. Some recommend six months, some say four to six month. What are your opinions, what are some of the reasons that you’ll encourage solids for four month olds? For example, whether it’s a cow’s milk allergy, a cow and soy allergy, allergy prevention, or faltering growth?

With under 12 month old infants who are suspected to have cow’s milk allergy and they’re waiting for their appointment with an allergist, which common allergy foods will you recommend to introduce before seeing that allergist, and before the infant turns one year of age?

With rice-based infant formula with small traces of lactose, under what condition is it okay or not okay to offer this to infants with a cow’s milk allergy?

Is there any evidence around eczema in the first six months and a higher incidence of developing food allergies when you introduce solids?

If on the first exposure to a food such as eggs, there is a reaction like lip swelling or hives, what is the best next step for parents to take?

Is there a higher prevalence of allergies in babies if maternal or paternal allergies already exist?

What do you think about the commercially available allergen risk foods in sachets?

Our next question is from one of our participants working in the northern rivers where they have a significant proportion of breastfeeding mothers who are vegan. Is there any evidence or difference in the prevalence of allergies in those babies who have not been exposed to those foods?

Can an infant have an anaphylaxis reaction to foods through breast milk?

For a purely breastfed baby with proctocolitis who is not responding to elimination of cow’s milk or soy milk in mum’s diet, would you trial elimination of other allergens?

For mild urticarial rashes (non-anaphylaxis), how soon afterwards can the food be given again? Would it be after the episode of urticarial rash or do they need to avoid that food for a period of time?

Viruses are the most common cause of urticaria (hives) in infants. For urticaria and other rashes due to skin contact, foods should not be removed from the diet. If a child has widespread urticaria after exposure to a known allergen they should avoid the food and be referred for assessment by a paediatric allergist.

This is an allergy prevention question. What if a family cannot regularly feed the food allergen after introduction? This might be due to cost, or the parent has an allergy and it is not feasible to keep offering.

If other members of the family have food allergies, introducing that food to their baby will reduce their risk of developing an allergy to that food. It is important to keep the other family member safe while doing that. For more information visit: https://preventallergies.org.au/feeding-your-baby/babies-with-existing-allergy-or-family-history/

How many times should an allergen be introduced to an infant before it can become part of the normal diet? For example, should egg and milk be kept separate for a certain duration?

Once a food has been introduced into a baby’s diet it can be then included in their regular diet. For more information visit: https://preventallergies.org.au/feeding-your-baby/how-to-introduce-common-allergy-causing-foods/