For years the medical community maintained that delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods might help prevent food allergy. But a new body of literature indicates that the opposite might actually be true: early introduction (at less than one year of life) might actually be protective against later food allergy.
A meta-analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 146 previously conducted studies that analyzed over 200,000 children. The researchers found that compared to later introduction of the respective foods:
- Introduction of peanuts between 4-11 months resulted in a 30% reduced risk of peanut allergy
- Introduction of eggs between 4-6 months resulted in a 70% reduced risk of egg allergy
Of course some precautions still need to be taken:
- Parents and caregivers of a baby who already has a food allergy or food-related eczema should take additional precautions
- Parents and caregivers of a baby who is at high risk for developing food allergy (usually because of established food allergy in other family members) should seek additional advice from their primary caregiver
For more information on food allergy visit the Food Allergy Resource and Education (FARE) website.