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Ask the expert: Should I steer clear of allergenic foods while I'm pregnant?

Experts explain unless pregnant women are allergic to a food themselves, they and their baby should eat a full, healthy and normal diet

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'There's no evidence any particular foods can prevent allergy either when pregnant or when weaning your baby. Advice is therefore to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruit to provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre' (stock photo)

'There's no evidence any particular foods can prevent allergy either when pregnant or when weaning your baby. Advice is therefore to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruit to provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre' (stock photo)

'There's no evidence any particular foods can prevent allergy either when pregnant or when weaning your baby. Advice is therefore to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruit to provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre' (stock photo)

Q. There are lots of allergies in our family, so should I steer clear of allergenic foods like eggs, fish and nuts while I'm pregnant, and in my baby's food once we're weaning?

A. Speaking before Allergy Awareness Week (April 20-26), Amena Warner, head of clinical services at Allergy UK, and allergy doctor Dr Joe FitzGibbon outline the current allergy advice for pregnancy and weaning.

Warner says: "The latest advice for expectant mums is that there's no need to avoid any particular foods unless they're allergic to them, as this hasn't been shown to prevent allergies.

"Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish) may help reduce the risk of eczema and allergic sensitisation in early life. Try to include some of these in your diet, but remember that pregnant women shouldn't eat more than two portions of oily fish a week.

"There's no evidence any particular foods can prevent allergy either when pregnant or when weaning your baby. Advice is therefore to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruit to provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre.

"With regards to weaning, when you and your baby are ready, you may start to offer them solids including vegetables, fruit, protein and starchy foods. At this stage, you don't need to add salt or sugar.

"If your baby is considered at higher risk of developing allergies, either through family history, severe eczema or other food allergies, research shows they may benefit from the earlier introduction of complimentary foods (solids), including food containing egg and peanut.

"If you have any concerns about your baby with regards to allergies or eczema, talk to your health visitor or GP."

And FitzGibbon says: "You'd imagine we'd have a simple answer to a simple question, but we don't. Considerable research has looked at how we can reduce the risk of allergy in children.

"The bottom line, for both normal and high-risk expectant mums, is they should eat a full and healthy diet. If they're high-risk, they could consider using one of the low-allergy infant formulae, as this could delay onset of eczema."

Belfast Telegraph