Treating Food Allergies should Start in Infancy

September 22, 2016 07:29
Treating Food Allergies should Start in Infancy

Introduction of certain allergenic foods to the infant diet can reduce the risk of developing an allergy to that food. This has been found in a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted for the U.K. Food Standards Agency.

American Medical Association, published the results which proved that early introduction of peanuts (from 4-11 months) diminished the risk of subsequent peanut allergy (risk ratio [RR] 0.29; 95% CI 0.11-0.74; based on two randomized clinical trials with 1,550 children) .

For eggs, early introduction (from 4-6 months) cut the risk of developing egg allergy (RR 0.56; 95% CI 0.36-0.87; based on five trials with 1,915 children). Robert J. Boyle, MD, PhD, of Imperial College London, and colleagues said, that "In an infant whose family usually consumes egg and peanut, we can be reasonably confident that delaying egg and peanut introduction increases the infant's risk for allergy to those foods. As long as there is no eczema or other sign of food allergy, then it seems reasonable to introduce egg and peanut when other complementary (solid) foods are introduced to the infant diet,".

The U.K. meta-analysis included 24 intervention trials testing allergic outcomes (13,298 participants), five intervention trials evaluating autoimmune diseases (5,623 participants), 69 observational studies reporting allergic outcomes (142,103 participants), and 48 observational studies testing autoimmune diseases (63,576 participants), published from 1946 through early this year.

All data evaluated allergenic food introduction (i.e., milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soy) during an infant's first year and development of allergic or autoimmune disease like diabetes mellitus, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at any age.

The systematic review found evidence that the timing of introduction of certain allergenic foods to the infant diet had been linked to risk of allergic disease but not risk of autoimmune disease.

Greenhawt echoed the idea of cautious interpretation, but believed the review offers key insights for preventing allergies. He wrote, "Delay of introduction of these foods may be associated with some degree of potential harm, and early introduction of selected foods appears to have a well-defined benefit. These important points should resonate with allergy specialists, primary care physicians, and other healthcare professionals who care for infants, as well as obstetricians caring for pregnant mothers, all of whom are important stakeholders in effectively conveying the message that guidance to delay allergen introduction is outdated."

Also Read: Increased number of allergy complaints during festival season

By Prakriti neogi

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