Myth 6: You must be vigilant when starting foods to prevent allergies
Food allergies aren't nearly as common as people believe. "Almost one in three parents thinks her child has food allergies, but only 6 to 8 percent of kids really do," Dr. Sicherer says. "Food allergies occur when the immune system attacks the otherwise harmless food and causes a reaction such as hives, eczema, vomiting, diarrhea, or, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis." And though parents frequently blame such reactions on a long list of edibles, the reality is that milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as cashews and walnuts), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish account for 90 percent of all food allergies. If you suspect that your child has an allergy, discuss the likely offenders with your pediatrician, who can order tests or refer you to a specialist.