Increased diversity of food in the first year of life may help protect against allergies

A broad range of foods in a child’s first year of life may help to prevent the development of allergic diseases. This European study is the first that shows an association between increased exposure to certain foods in the first year of life and protection against later development of allergies and it was led by a team of European researchers.

Women were recruited from five countries (Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland) when pregnant and, after birth, they kept a monthly diary of the food given to their children from the age of three months until twelve months old. A series of questionnaires and blood tests were used regularly until the age of six to determine whether the child had an allergy. 856 children took part.

Results showed that children, whose diet included many different types of food, had a lower risk of allergic diseases. In particular, the introduction of some specific foods was found to result in a lower risk of diseases; milk products and fish introduced in the first year of life seemed to have a high protective effect against asthma and food allergies respectively.

The study also found that age was a factor and that the period between six months and one year may be an important window for exposure to a variety of different foods to reduce the risk of allergic diseases.

Current recommendations are for children to be introduced to solid food at around six months, and no earlier than four months old. Ensuring children are introduced to a wide variety of foods in infancy, especially between six and twelve months, may have a preventative effect against the child developing an allergy.

Posted: 02/07/2014 10:03:26 by Laura Keaver


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