Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
The age at which a baby is offered her first solid food may affect the likelihood that she develops food allergies later in childhood, according to new research by British scientists. Breastfeeding exclusively for 4-6 months, then introducing solid foods while still breastfeeding, the researchers found, is the best way to prevent food allergies from developing. More from The New York Times:
British researchers followed a group of 1,140 infants from birth to 2 years, while their mothers completed diaries detailing the babies’ diets and noting suspected allergic reactions to food, which researchers later confirmed by testing. They found 41 babies with confirmed food allergies, and compared them with 82 age-matched healthy controls. All were born between January 2006 and October 2007.
After controlling for birth weight, the duration of pregnancy, maternal allergies and many other factors, they found that 17 weeks was the crucial age: babies who were introduced to solids before this age were significantly more likely to develop food allergies.
The study, published online in Pediatrics, found that continuing to breast-feed while introducing cow’s milk also had a protective effect against allergies. The authors suggest that the immunologic factors in breast milk are what provide the advantage.
The researchers advised that mothers who are not breastfeeding also wait until after 17 weeks to introduce solids.
Learn how to make fresh baby food at home with our helpful guide. Then, download our charts and checklists to keep track of Baby’s important info.
Image: Baby food, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 8th, 2012
A new food allergy treatment could allow children to safely consume foods that once would have been life-threatening, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are hoping.
The scientists are testing whether “sublingual therapy,” in which tiny amounts of the allergenic substance–such as milk–are placed under the patient’s tongue, could desensitize the body enough to allow it to move on to “oral immunotherapy,” in which the patient swallows small amounts of the substance. In experiments, kids who did sublingual therapy before oral immunotherapy had better results.
CNN.com reports, however, that the treatment plan needs to be carefully honed to minimize the chances of triggering serious allergic reactions in children:
The results suggested that children who went through a year of sublingual therapy followed by one to two years of oral immunotherapy were less likely to have significant allergic reactions when undergoing the oral immunotherapy. Still, it did not eliminate all symptoms.
This is particularly important, because about 20% of the kids that [Dr. Robert] Wood [of Johns Hopkins] and colleagues work with have significant reactions during the treatment that make the therapy unfeasible, Wood said.
Some participants have shown they can safely eat milk products up to a year after stopping the therapies, Wood said. But only one-third have longterm protection. Others need regular exposure to milk in order to maintain protection against allergic reactions.
“With milk that’s not too hard,” Wood says, because one could “eat pizza a couple of times a week.”
Image: Boy drinking milk, via Shutterstock.
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