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A study published in 2006 by the journal Pediatrics found positives in introducing gluten containing foods (found in wheat, barley and oats) to babies at risk of developing celiac disease between the ages of 4 to 6 months of age and not later than 7 months. Click here to read the article.
Because wheat is on the list of the 8 most common allergenic foods and most of the foods on this list are often introduced to babies after the age of 1 year, many parents have been advised to wait with the introduction of wheat products until their babies are at least a year old. However, according to a report released in 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, delaying the introduction of solids may no longer be necessary and may actually cause more harm than good...
"Delaying exposure until after 6 months was associated with an increased risk of wheat allergy, not a protective effect. In addition, these findings confirm the role of family history of allergy as a predictor of food allergy outcomes in children". AAP, 2006"
The AAP's report also states that their results supported the recommendations of first introducing cereal foods to babies between 4 and 6 months of age.
Note: Please consult your baby's pediatrician before introducing wheat to your baby's diet especially if you have a family history of food allergies. Discuss when to incorporate wheat into your baby's diet with your baby's doctor as recommendations may vary widely from country to country. The information on this page is only meant as a guide and should not be used to substitute advice given to you by your child's doctor.
Wheat food allergies occur when your baby's immune system identifies one or more of the otherwise harmless wheat proteins including gluten, as unsafe. The body's immune system, which is designed to protect our bodies by identifying foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses etc.) and destroying them, reacts by producing antibodies which in turn produce histamines. And it is these histamines that are responsible for the allergy symptoms.
Wheat is on the list of the top 8 major allergenic foods. The other 7 allergenic foods on the list include milk, Eggs, Fish, Shellfish, Tree nuts, Peanuts and Soy bean. According to the FDA, food allergies affect over 7% of children in America.
Wheat allergy symptoms may appear a few minutes to one or two hours after the ingestion of the allergen (gluten). Symptoms may include the following:
In rare cases an Anaphylactic shock may occur. Anaphylactic shock is life threatening. Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock may include difficulty in breathing, sudden drop in blood pressure, panting, wheezing, nausea, convulsions and loss of consciousness.
Wheat allergy can be diagnosed using the Skin prick test or by using the popular Elimination-challenge testing.
If your baby does get confirmed wheat (gluten) allergy then avoiding the foods that contain gluten (the allergen) is vital in preventing further wheat food allergies. But with a lot of foods containing wheat nowadays, eliminating wheat from your baby's diet can seem pretty daunting. Fortunately, there are a lot of wheat substitutes that are easily available at most leading supermarkets and health stores.
Note: Do not eliminate wheat from your baby's diet without consulting your child's doctor or medical professionals.
You will also have to get into the habit of reading food labels, because a lot unsuspecting foods out there contain wheat. Here are a few names to look out for when reading food labels:
A lot the foods that we meet every day contain wheat. The following is a list of some of the foods that call for wheat as a base ingredient. Avoid giving these foods to babies with a confirmed wheat allergy: