Allergies not prevented by late introduction of foods

March 23, 2005 in Allergies & Intolerances, Nutrition Topics in the News

Allergies not prevented by late introduction of foods

Recent study findings suggest that delaying the introduction of highly allergenic foods to children, other than milk, does not seem to be effective in preventing food allergies.

Currently, some guidelines recommend postponing the introduction of eggs, fish, tree nuts and peanuts until after the age of two or three. This delayed introduction of highly allergenic foods is often recommended for the primary prevention of food allergy in high-risk infants.

Researchers studied 41 children who were an average of six years old who had egg, soy, peanut and hazelnut eliminated from their diet from birth in an attempt to prevent the development of allergy to these foods. The investigators used food challenge tests to determine the rate the reactivity to the eliminated foods. The study included a control group of 49 age-matched children with suspected food allergy who had not avoided these foods.

No clinical differences existed in the number of positive food challenge tests or in the threshold dose between cases and controls. Many children in the primary prevention group as in the control group, showed allergic reactions to these foods and the amount of allergenic food the children reacted to was similar in both groups. However, researchers cautioned that a significant number of children, 39 percent in this study, may have allergic reactions following their first known exposure to allergenic foods.

Since sensitized children are at greater risk, researchers recommend that sensitized children should have their first exposure to these foods under medical supervision.

Researchers note that it is probably not useful for children in families at high risk for allergies to delay the introduction of these foods. However, additional studies are needed before definite conclusions and recommendations can be made.

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