Prevention through early introduction?

A new study published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that early introduction to eggs helped prevent the development of an egg allergy. Currently, parents are often being told to hold back on introducing egg in the diet until after 12 months for fear of allergies, however, this may actually increase the risk of an allergy developing.

This four-year study of 2500 infants showed that infants who started to eat eggs at four to six months of age had a five-fold lower risk of an egg allergy compared to those who started eating egg after 12 months. Infants who were given an egg in cooked form such as boiled or poached did better than having it baked in a cake or biscuit. The study showed that 5.6 per cent of four to six month aged babies developed an egg allergy, compared with 27.6 per cent of children who first ate cooked egg after 12 months.

This research was done by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. Study leader Associate Professor Katie Allen said that more research in this area was needed and wanted to check on cow’s milk and nuts. She said, “Confirmation that early introduction is protective for other allergenic foods may help better inform parents in the future, and could have the potential to reverse the epidemic of childhood food allergy.”

The clinical implications are still unclear since all current recommendations are to introduce solids at 6 months. The study is extremely interesting, however, further research is necessary before recommending allergenic foods be introduced at such a young age.

Reference: J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Oct;126(4):807-13.