Deadly Reaction: Give kids best chance against allergies

What you feed them between six and nine months could shape their allergies for years to come.

Allergies are on the rise in kids with the incidence of food allergies skyrocketing in the last ten years. However doctors say in some cases, kids can avoid allergies all together.

"Have allergies increased?"

Dr. Gary Carpenter, an allergist with the Quincy Medical Group said, "Oh yes, in environmental and food allergies. They've increased throughout the world and not just in this country."

The numbers speak for themselves -- Now one in every 20 children under the age of five has a food allergy. That adds up to nearly 6 million U.S. children according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Last December specialists determined a big reason for the huge uptick was actually the recommendations doctors had formulated a decade before. Now instead of telling parents to withhold foods like peanuts, shellfish and cows milk from babies ... they say you need to feed it to them between six to nine months of life.

Dr. Carpenter says it's all about training a baby's body to recognize what's safe and what's not.

Dr. Carpenter said, "A food allergy is a normal immune response to a food that should have been directed at an infectious agent. We know that first year of life is a magic time for a child. Things they are exposed to in that first year of life are much less likely to make them allergenic. It's what we call immune tolerance. An example, if a child has a peanut or peanut butter during the first year, he knows it is okay. But if it is after a year the child may recognize it as a foreign invader and tries to produce antibodies against that peanut."

By the same token, Dr. Carpenter says what your child is around early on ... can decrease their chances of developing an environmental allergy.

Dr. Carpenter said, "Study after study shows that people who grow up on farms and rural areas are much less likely to get allergies. Because we keep so clean and keep away from germs and dirt, we don't have a varied bacteria background. So the old saying, 'that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger,' is true. Infection is actually good against preventing allergies."

The excessive use of antibiotics also can increase your chances of developing allergies. When you take antibiotics, they don't just kill bad bacteria, but the good as well. Too many antibiotics means stronger bacteria which can in some cases that can lead to allergies.

Dr. Carpenter says the same concept is true for Celiac disease. It's also increasing in frequency because of delayed introduction of wheat into the diet.