A paper reported today in the journal JAMA has conducted a meta-analysis of the current evidence that timing of allergenic food introduction during infancy influences risk of allergic or autoimmune disease. In response to this paper, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement:
Dr Louisa James, British Society for Immunology spokesperson, said:
"Previous guidelines recommended that parents and guardians delay the introduction of allergenic food to infants’ diets. This view has been challenged recently by clinical studies demonstrating that early consumption of peanut and egg may in fact protect against the development of food allergy.
“Considering the increased prevalence of food allergies over recent decades, new guidelines on the timing of introduction of allergenic food to the infant diet are warranted. By combining the data from several clinical studies, Ierodiakonou and colleagues provide evidence that the early introduction of egg at 4-6 months and peanut at 4-11 months reduces the risk of developing egg and peanut allergy respectively. Unfortunately the number of reported studies that could be included in this analysis was small and there were important differences in the way each study was conducted. This means that, despite positive findings overall, additional evidence is now needed before any new specific recommendations on the timing of introduction of allergenic food can be made.
“Despite the limitations, these findings are encouraging and support the growing consensus that the timing of introduction of allergenic food to the infant diet can influence the natural history of food allergy."
The full paper that this comment is in response to can be found at: Ierodiakonou et al. 2016 JAMA 316 1181-1192 doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.12623