September 3, 2014

Can Delaying Certain Foods Increase a Child’s Chance for Developing Allergic Disease?

In recent years, the pediatric guidelines for introducing foods to children, recommended avoiding dairy until age 1, eggs until age 2 — and peanuts, nuts and seafood until age 3. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breast-feeding until age 4 to 6 months, followed by the introduction of complementary foods. However, the AAP does not give a timeline for when such foods should be introduced. We know that food allergies are steadily on the rise; could delaying these foods be part of the problem? Perhaps it is.

A study followed 3781 Finnish children for 5 years to see if there was a correlation between the duration of breast-feeding, the introduction of complementary foods, and the development of allergic disease. It was noted that the introduction of wheat, rye, oats, and barley before age 5.5 months, fish before age 9 months, and egg before age 11 months was actually associated with lower rates of asthma and allergic rhinitis. In addition, a total breast-feeding duration of 9.5 months or more was associated with lower risk for asthma. The benefit also seemed to relate with the duration of total breast-feeding rather than exclusive breast-feeding.

It should also be noted that children who are exclusively breast-fed are at an increased risk of low iron but, it has been shown that the early introduction (at 4 months of age, versus 6 month) of wheat and grains improved growth rates and iron status.

Citation(s):
Nwaru BI et al. Timing of infant feeding in relation to childhood asthma and allergic diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2013 Jan; 131:78. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2012.10.028) Published in Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine January 30, 2013

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