Early egg and peanut feeding may help reduce later food allergies in infants, says study

peanut feeding

The most common food allergens include peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. These foods account for about 90% of all allergic reactions.

Because food allergies can develop early in life, it is important to prevent the risk from the beginning. Recently, researchers find that feeding infants eggs and peanuts is associated with lower risk of developing allergies to these foods later in life.

The finding is published in JAMA. Researchers from Imperial College London in England, University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Cardiff University in Wales, University of Oxford in England, and University of Nottingham in England conducted a systematic review about past research.

Researchers focused on how allergenic food in infant diet could influence the risk of food allergy or immune disease. They collected papers published between January 1946 and March 2016. Among 16,289 papers, they selected 204 papers from 146 studies.

They found that in 1915 participants, early egg feeding at 4-6 months was associated with reduced egg allergy later in life. The absolute risk reduction was 5.4% incidence of egg allergy per 1000 population.

In addition, researchers found that in 1550 participants, early peanut feeding at 4-11 months was related to decreased peanut allergy. The absolute risk reduction was 2.5% incidence of peanut allergy per 1000 population.

Timing of egg or peanut feeding was not associated with risk of allergy to other foods. Researchers also found that early fish feeding was related to decreased fish allergy, but the certainty was low.

Finally, early gluten feeding was not associated with celiac disease (a digestive problem related to gluten).

Researchers suggest that adding egg or peanut in infant diet may help lower the risk of developing egg or peanut allergy.

But this does not mean egg or peanut feeding is suitable for all infants. Parents should do this based on doctors’ advice.

Citation: Despo Ierodiakonou et al. (2016). Timing of Allergenic Food Introduction to the Infant Diet and Risk of Allergic or Autoimmune Disease A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA, 316: 1181-1192. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.12623.
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