Introducing solid foods while continuing to breast feed could prevent child allergies

November 20, 2013

Introducing solid food with breast milk after the 17th week of birth could reduce food allergies in babies, according to University of Southampton research.

The research, led by Dr Kate Grimshaw, dietitian and senior research fellow at the University, say that giving the baby solid food beside breast feeding helps it develop a better, stronger immune system to fight food allergies.

"Introducing solid foods alongside breastfeeding can benefit the immune system," Dr Grimshaw explains. "It appears the immune system becomes educated when there is an overlap of solids and breast milk because the milk promotes tolerogenic mechanisms against the solids.

"Additionally, our findings suggest 17 weeks is a crucial time point, with solid food introduction before this time appearing to promote allergic disease whereas solid food introduction after that time point seems to promote tolerance."

Infants are largely intolerant of solid food before four to six months of age. This is thought to be due to the infant gut being relatively immature, which may cause symptoms of food allergy.

The study, funded by the UK Food Standards Agency and published in Pediatrics, recruited 1140 infants at birth from the Hampshire area in a study known as 'PIFA'. 41 of these children went onto to develop a food allergy by the time they were two years of age. The diet of these infants was compared with the diet of 82 infants who did not develop food allergy by the time they were two.

The team found that children who had developed allergies began eating solid food earlier than children with no allergies -- roughly, at age 16 weeks or earlier. Children with allergies were also more likely to not be being breastfed when the mother introduced cow's milk protein, from any source. Women who are not breastfeeding are encouraged to introduce solids after 17 weeks of age, Dr Grimshaw says.

This unique research supports the recommendations of the American Academy of Paediatrics and the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition who urge mothers not to introduce solid foods before four to six months of age. Furthermore the findings also support the American Academy of Paediatrics' breastfeeding recommendations that breastfeeding should continue while solid foods are introduced into the diet.
-end-


University of Southampton

Related Immune System Articles from Brightsurf:

How the immune system remembers viruses
For a person to acquire immunity to a disease, T cells must develop into memory cells after contact with the pathogen.

How does the immune system develop in the first days of life?
Researchers highlight the anti-inflammatory response taking place after birth and designed to shield the newborn from infection.

Memory training for the immune system
The immune system will memorize the pathogen after an infection and can therefore react promptly after reinfection with the same pathogen.

Immune system may have another job -- combatting depression
An inflammatory autoimmune response within the central nervous system similar to one linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found in the spinal fluid of healthy people, according to a new Yale-led study comparing immune system cells in the spinal fluid of MS patients and healthy subjects.

COVID-19: Immune system derails
Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction - rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition.

Immune cell steroids help tumours suppress the immune system, offering new drug targets
Tumours found to evade the immune system by telling immune cells to produce immunosuppressive steroids.

Immune system -- Knocked off balance
Instead of protecting us, the immune system can sometimes go awry, as in the case of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Too much salt weakens the immune system
A high-salt diet is not only bad for one's blood pressure, but also for the immune system.

Parkinson's and the immune system
Mutations in the Parkin gene are a common cause of hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease.

How an immune system regulator shifts the balance of immune cells
Researchers have provided new insight on the role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in regulating the immune response.

Read More: Immune System News and Immune System Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.