It turns out that Australia has one of the highest rates of allergic disease (hay fever, asthma, hives) in the world.

So, Australian Family Physician reviewed current recommendations.

A history of allergic disease in a first-degree relative is the only useful indicator for increased risk of developing allergic disease in a child.

Prevention strategies for these high-risk babies.

  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
    • When breastfeeding isn’t possible or sufficient, partially hydrolyzed formula should be used in high-risk infants.
  • Introducing solids should be delayed until 4 to 6 months of age.
    • There’s no evidence for delaying solids beyond this age.

What not to do.

  • Maternal dietary restriction during pregnancy or lactation and aeroallergen (pollen, spores) avoidance are not recommended.
  • There’s insufficient evidence to recommend probiotics to prevent allergy.
    • Although one study reported that giving prebiotics resulted in a lower incidence of atopic dermatitis

The effect of exposing the fetus to cigarette smoking and children to smoke during early childhood is not clear. However parental smoking increases the risk of early childhood wheezing, according ot the authors.

Also, there’s evidence that the pattern of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid exposure in pregnancy can influence neonatal cytokine production (essential for a coordinated immune response), although the relevance of this is not clear, say the authors.

More on the effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy on the risk of asthma in children is here, and on sensitization to allergy by mum’s baby is here.

7/7/08 11:46 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.