For years, health organizations and pediatricians recommended not giving infants (especially those at high-risk) food allergens – like eggs, peanuts, dairy or fish – as an introductory food, and at the same time, pediatricians were noticing an increase in the prevalence of food allergies in U.S. children. Now, current research has challenged that paradigm. Introducing allergen foods as early as 4 months, when the child is developmentally ready, may actually decrease risk of developing food allergies.
For example, the EAT (Enquiring about Tolerance) Study showed that in 1,303 exclusively breast-fed 3 month-old infants, those exposed to eggs around 3 to 6 months of age were less likely to develop an allergy to eggs later in infancy.
Similarly, an analysis published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that,
“Early egg or peanut introduction to the infant diet was associated with lower risk of developing egg or peanut allergy.”
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) recently convened an expert committee to conduct a comprehensive review on food allergies based on the latest science. Their conclusion was consistent with the findings of these two papers. For more details, please read the review on food allergies.
Lerodiakonou D, et al. Timing of Allergenic Food Introduction to the Infant Diet and Risk of Allergic or Autoimmune Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;316(11):1181-1192.
Perkin, MR, et al. for the EAT Study Team. “Randomized trial of introduction of allergenic foods in breast-fed infants.” NEJM March 4, 2016. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514210.
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