New research on preventing allergic reactions to food

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- From milk to eggs, shellfish and nuts, food allergies can restrict some families' diets significantly. Know More about these allergic foods and how parents can possibly prevent their children from developing allergic reactions.

Experts report six percent of children have food allergies, and three percent of them outgrow those allergies by the time they're adults. Now, new studies are showing some of those children may never develop allergies in the first place if they're exposed to allergic foods at a younger age.

When lunch time rolls around, you can be certain nuts are no where to be found in the Maurer residence.

"At 13 months [old], we tried a little bit of peanut butter out on him," mother Lindsay Maurer said of her son, Oliver. "Two hours later, he had head to toe, swelling, hives, you know the signature allergic reaction stuff."

Oliver suffered an anaphylactic reaction to the nuts. Now while he's 17 months old, Lindsay and her husband can monitor exactly what their son eats.

"It makes it a little bit easier to transition him into having [food allergies]," she said.

For years, it was recommended parents feed potentially allergy-causing foods to their children around age three, but all of that is changing. The Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests children between four and six months of age try those foods.

"The data is looking very promising as far as early introduction of allergic foods as long as the child can safely swallow it," allergist Dr. William A. Scott said.

Dr. Scott says preliminary data shows it's likely early introduction can reduce the chances of the child having food allergies later in life.

"The immune system is very flexible and tends to not recognize things as necessarily being foreign," he said.

It was this data which inspired Lindsay to introduce peanuts to Oliver.

"It’s really important that we know clearly how to feed our children as they grow up," she said.

Now, she's working to create a 'No Nuts Mom's Group of Grand Junction.’ The group originated in Michigan and has since grown to several other states.

"[The group’s purpose is to] provide a safe space and support for parents and kids to come and play and discuss their children's' food allergies," she said.

Parents can also share tips on which restaurants are good about accommodating food allergies, which brands of foods taste the best, etc.

Dr. Scott says these new recommendations are not completely official, and researchers are still waiting on results from larger studies. Experts say it's worth talking to your child's physician and doing your own research before testing out allergic foods on younger children.

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