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15-12-2009 | Respiratory | Article

Late introduction of solid food in infants increases allergy risk

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Delaying the introduction of solid food to infants in the first year of life is associated with an increased risk for allergic sensitization to food and inhalant allergens, research shows.

"Our observations in the present study are in accordance with reports showing that delayed introduction of solid foods may not prevent the development of allergic diseases in children," report Bright Nwaru (University of Tampere, Finland) and colleagues in the journal Pediatrics.

Current recommendations propose breastfeeding children in the first 6 months to prevent allergic diseases.

The reasoning is that the gut mucosal of the infant is immature, and that early introduction of solid food might sensitize against foods and inhalants.

The evidence, however, for this hypothesis is not strong, according to Nwaru and colleagues, leading them to examine the relationship between the age of introduction of solid food and allergic sensitization in 5-year-old children.

The group analyzed data from 994 children included in a prospective birth cohort study.

Results showed that the late introduction of potatoes (>4 months), oats (>5.5 months), rye (>7 months), meat (>5.5 months), fish (>8.2 months), and eggs (>10.5 months) were all associated with an increased risk for any food allergy in childhood.

For example, introducing eggs later in life significantly increased the relative risk of any food allergy by 87% compared with feeding with eggs earlier in life.

Similarly, the late introduction of potatoes, oats, rye, meat, and fish was also associated with an increased risk for any inhalant allergy. Potatoes, for example, introduced later than 4 months was associated with a significant 87% increased risk for developing an allergy to any inhalant.

Overall, eggs, oats, and wheat were most strongly related to food sensitization, whereas potatoes and fish were most strongly related to inhalant sensitization.

The researchers say there was no evidence of reverse causality in the present study when parental allergic rhinitis and asthma were taken into account.

"These findings challenge the current recommendations regarding infant feeding for the prevention of allergic diseases," conclude Nwaru and colleagues.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

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