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Changes Are Coming In Infant and Baby Feeding Recommendations

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

In early 2010, The American Academy of Pediatrics is going to be announcing revisions to long-standing infant feeding recommendations. From what I have been reading there will be lots of changes ahead in how foods are going to be introduced to babies.

imagesA new study to be published in Pediatrics in January 2010 finds that delaying introduction of certain foods may actually contribute to the future development of food allergies. Studies have continued to show a rise in food allergies despite previous recommendations to limit intake of certain foods in younger children in hopes of reducing the incidence of food allergies.

This study was performed in Finland, and researchers there found that children introduced to certain foods later in infancy were more likely to become sensitized to that food, and therefore had an increased risk of developing a full blown allergy.

For as long as I have practiced it has been recommended that infants receive breast milk or formula exclusively for the first six months of life. After the first six months, it is recommended that an infant begin rice cereal after which vegetables are typically introduced. Foods are typically introduced one at a time for several days before adding the next new food. Most infants receive vegetables, followed by fruits and then meats.

In this study over 900 children were followed from infancy. By the age of five, 17 percent had food allergies. 12 percent were sensitized to cow’s milk, 9 percent to eggs, 5 percent to wheat and 1 percent to fish. Later introduction of some foods actually increased the likelihood that a child would be sensitized to that food by the time they were five-years-old, whether their parents had allergies or not. This was fascinating as it was in exact opposition to previous thoughts that later introduction of foods might decrease food allergies.

The later introduction of food and subsequent allergy development was greatest for eggs if introduced after 10.5 months of age, for oats after 5 months and wheat if introduced after 6 months.

So, bottom line, this study suggests that for children who are at risk for developing allergies, earlier introduction of food may actually prevent sensitization from occurring. There will be more studies to come with randomization of children in a double blind manner to see if these results will be duplicated.

This subject is going to be big in 2010, so watch for more!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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