Is it safe to introduce allergens to my baby during the Coronavirus outbreak – given it would be riskier to go to the ER in case of a reaction?
The risk of an allergic reaction for low-risk infants—no eczema or egg allergy—is very low, and parents should not hesitate to introduce any food. The benefits of eating the most common food allergens are much higher than the risks.
Corona needs to be taken seriously, but risks and benefits must always be weighed. Doctors office visits are limited these days in order to maintain proper social distancing, but there remain good reasons to go to the doctors office, such as having infants get their vaccines. (No point in avoiding Corona, only to get Whooping Cough.) The likelihood of a reaction to food is low, but should it occur, give Benadryl and either go to the ER if there is difficulty breathing (rare), or call your child’s pediatrician’s office to arrange a safe urgent visit.
High risk infants—with eczema and/or egg allergy—are at significant risk of peanut allergy. With severe eczema, the risk of peanut allergy is over 20%. I would not ignore the risk of a “lifetime sentence” of peanut avoidance, even in the age of Corona. Call your doctor to arrange a peanut allergy test to make sure that your infant is not already allergic. This can be a blood test at the lab or skin test at the allergist’s office. With proper planning—minimizing contact with others—these visits can be very low risk. If the tests are negative, have them eat Puffworks baby!