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Egg allergy: early exposure the key to prevention

Babies given egg to eat after 12 months of age are more likely to develop an egg allergy as they grow older than babies introduced to egg at four to six months, according to a study by researchers at The University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Lead authors Assoc Prof Katie Allen and PhD scholar Jennifer Koplin said that the study added to growing evidence that early introduction of allergenic foods could be the best way to protect children against allergies.

01 Nov 2010

Babies given egg to eat after 12 months of age are more likely to develop an egg allergy as they grow older than babies introduced to egg at four to six months, according to a study by researchers at The University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Lead authors Assoc Prof Katie Allen and PhD scholar Jennifer Koplin said that the study added to growing evidence that early introduction of allergenic foods could be the best way to protect children against allergies.

Earlier Australian and international guidelines had recommended that introduction of allergenic foods to infants with a family history of allergy should be delayed until they were two to three years old, they said.

But their study – involving more than 2,500 infants in Victoria - suggested that babies who ingested these foods at an earlier age might be less likely to develop food allergies as they grew older.

It found that infants who had been introduced to egg after 12 months of age had triple the risk of egg allergy at 14 to 18 months than those given egg at four to six months, whether or not they had a family history of allergy. It found no link between egg allergy and duration of breastfeeding or timing of first introduction to first solids.

 

Prof Allen said that more research was needed to determine whether or not these findings could also be true for other allergenic foods. “Confirmation that early introduction is protective for other allergenic foods may help inform parent better in the future and could have the potential to reverse the epidemic of childhood food allergy,” she said.

The study – published online by Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - was part of a wider project led by Prof Allen to track food allergy prevalence and causes among Victorian infants.


Published: 01 Nov 2010