12/02/2013 03:31 EST | Updated 01/31/2014 05:59 EST

Groups say babies may eat allergy-sparking foods as early as 6 months

Two medical groups say babies who are at high risk of developing a food allergy can be exposed to potential allergens as early as six months of age.

The statement was issued by the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Dr. Edmond Chan, co-author of the statement, says delaying dietary exposure to peanuts, fish or eggs will not reduce a child's risk of developing a food allergy.

He says that once a new food is introduced it's important to continue to offer it regularly to maintain the child's tolerance.

The statement says that while these foods can be introduced to high-risk babies, the decision when to do so should be based on the parents' comfort level.

Babies are considered at high risk of developing a food allergy if they have a parent or sibling with an allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis, a food allergy, asthma or allergic rhinitis.

Food allergies affect about seven per cent of Canadians and some research suggests food allergies among babies are increasing, affecting over 10 per cent of one-year-olds.

The statement was endorsed by Dietitians of Canada.