Next week is Food Allergy Week

And we will be posting every day to try and help increase awareness and offer support to those affected by food allergies.

We also have some fab competitions and giveaways, from MedicAlert, Tidy Trays and more

See you next week!

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Does breastfeeding increase the risk of food allergies?

Last Thursday (13 January 2011) the British Medical Journal published a report byMary Fewtrell and colleagues into whether exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, which is the current WHO and UK Department of Health recommendation, could actually be bad for babies and, of particular interest to us here at Food Allergy Kitchen, that such a practice could actually increase the risk of developing food allergies.

The full report is available on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website but I have reproduced the section that relates specifically to allergies below. In brief, the researchers were not disputing the proven benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, rather they were questioning whether 6 months was too late a time to start weaning.

The conclusions of this research were that leaving weaning until 6 months may actually increase incidence of food allergies, particularly those associated with wheat and gluten. The research also pointed out that allergies are rising despite advice to avoid certain allergenic foods, and in countries where peanuts (for example) are generally eaten at younger ages, the incidence of allergy is actually lower. Note that the research actually concluded that weaning before 4 months is also associated with later digestive problems, so in summary they are recommending a return to the practice of weaning between 4 and 6 months, which as anyone who had a baby before 2003 will know, was the advice mother used to be given.

From my own perspective, my small allergy-ridden boy was breastfed for 7 months, but started weaning  at about 5- 5 and a half  months, so as a test case he is decidedly inconclusive. As with everything else, as a mother you need to take everything and all the advice into account and make your own mind up. Easier said than done, I know.

We would love to hear your comments on the BMJ report and whether you agree or disagree with the results.

 

Allergy and coeliac disease

Kramer and Kakuma’s original review did not find a link between exclusive breast feeding duration and allergic disease (box 1). Important new data are now emerging with implications for practice.

Paradoxically, many developed countries have rising rates of food allergy, despite increasing advice to restrict and delay exposure to potentially allergenic foods, including cows’ milk, egg, fish, gluten, peanut, and seeds. Moreover, countries where peanuts are commonly used as weaning foods have low incidences of peanut allergy (Israel, for example 23). These observations have prompted further work on immune tolerance to foods.

The development of immune tolerance to an antigen may require repeated exposure, perhaps during a critical early window, and perhaps modulated by other dietary factors including breast feeding. A 2008 review24 found an increased risk of allergy if solids were introduced before three to four months. After four months, the evidence was weak, but suggested an increased risk with delayed introduction of certain allergens. For example, the incidence of early onset coeliac disease increased in Sweden following advice to delay introduction of gluten until age six months, and it fell to previous levels after the recommendation reverted to four months. Subsequent analyses suggest that gluten should ideally be introduced in small quantities alongside continued breast feeding.25 A more recent study in infants at risk (with a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes or carriage of certain HLA types), showed that introduction of gluten before three months and after six months was associated with increased risk of biopsy proved coeliac disease26 and islet cell autoantibodies27. This finding suggests that gluten may best be introduced during a critical window of three to six months. In the same cohort, introduction of wheat after six months predicted increased risk of wheat allergy at age four years.28 Two UK randomised trials are now investigating early introduction of allergenic foods: the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study (http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00329784) and the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) trial (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN14254740).

Extract courtesy of the British Medical Journal website http://www.BMJ.com Reference:  BMJ 2010;341:c5955

Chocolate? Allergy Friendly?

When you are allergic to soya, it’s pretty hard to find chocolate that is soya-free, but it can be done. However, if you are allergic to dairy you have no chance…

Last year I stumbled across Billy Goat Stuff- a fantabulous site selling hand made chocolate made from Goat’s Milk.

You can either buy bars, or shapes, and it’s pretty tasty too. Billy Goat Stuff is free from  Nuts, Soya, Cow’s Dairy, Eggs, Wheat and Gluten, which makes it a winner in our book!

Christmas Caramel Shortcake- normal and allergy version

Christmas is a great excuse to cook (and eat) some deliciously bad for you treats and this is my absolute favourite. As my Gran is now 88 next birthday I had to learn how to cook them myself (and 112 miles round trip is a bit far!) and if I can do it anyone can. Just ask my husband (who does all the cooking in our house).

I am actually posting two versions here. The first is the traditional version and the second is my own variation especially for my small son. We found out earlier this year that he suffers from multiple allergies after a severe reaction to a peanut. At latest count he is also allergic (ranging from mild to moderate) to dairy, wheat, nuts, eggs and soya. As a result, the second version is probably less tasty, but is wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, soya free and egg free. Believe me, a rare occurence!

Caramel Slice

For the shortbread base, combine 4 oz butter, 2 oz caster sugar and 6 oz self raising flour in a bowl. With your hands. Believe me there is no point trying to use a spoon. It is pointless. Just get your hands in and scrunch. When it is mixed through, and don’t worry it will be crumbly, press it out into a square (or rather rectangle) shallow baking tray. Mine is about 6 inches by 10 inches. Pat it down in the tray so it fills evenly and to the corners. Don’t squash it to within an inch of its life, just so that it sits comfortably. Bake in a medium oven (Gas Mark 4/ 175C) for 15 to 20 mins until golden brown. Allow to cool.

For the caramel, melt 4 oz butter in a pan and add 4oz caster sugar, 2 tablespoons of golden syrup and half a tin of condensed milk. Keep on a moderate heat and stir CONTINUOUSLY for 5-10 minutes. This does get a bit boring, but try and have something interesting on the telly. You will know when it is ready because it will change colour slightly- it starts off quite yellowy and will turn a darker, more golden colour. Pour over the cooled biscuit base and leave to set. Somewhere level.

Finally, once the caramel has cooled, melt 6oz of chocolate (plain or milk are good. Never tried it with white, but if that’s your thing, feel free) and pour over the top. Try and wait until it sets before slicing and chomping.

Allergy alternative

The main problems with an allergy alternative are the caramel and the chocolate. Both contain milk and chocolate normally contains soya lecithin. As a result this is more chocolate covered shortcake than caramel slice, but who’s complaining? Note that all the ingredients I use can be found in main supermarkets. Because I shop in supermarkets.

The biscuit base follows the same scrunching method as above but uses 4 oz of So Good dairy/soya/gluten free margarine, 4 oz of caster sugar, 6 oz of rice flour and1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder. The extra sugar is to combat the more savoury flavour of the rice flour. Cook at Gas Mark 4/175C for 20 minutes. It won’t go proper golden brown, but will singe slightly at the top.

When cool, mix 1 tablespoon of golden syrup with as much cocoa powder as you like to taste. Note this is proper cocoa, not drinking chocolate. Drizzle the runny chocolate over the biscuit and put in the fridge (or a really cold place) to encourage setting. Slice and serve.

Merry Christmas!

[originally published on http://www.mumazing.co.uk]

Welcome to Food Allergy Kitchen!

Welcome to our brand new blog! As parents of an allergic child, we thought that collecting all the info we needed to find out, recipes, useful medical details and products in one place just made sense. So here it is!

Keep checking back for news, updates, and special offers.