A major new study for the Food Standards Agency (FSA)
which has been published in the New England Journal
of Medicine has found that introducing allergenic
foods to the infant diet from three months of age
may be effective in food allergy prevention if the
recommended quantity of allergenic food was
research compared those infants that were breastfed
and consumed allergenic foods from three months with
those solely breastfed and given foods at six
Overall, food allergy was lower in the group
introduced to allergenic foods early but the
difference was not statistically significant. Early
introduction of all the foods was not easy but it
the infants who did manage to consume the
recommended quantity of the allergenic foods there
was a two-thirds reduction in overall food allergy.
aim of the study was to establish whether early
introduction of allergenic foods into the diet of
breastfed infants would prevent the development of
1,300 infants, enrolled at the Evelina London
Children’s Hospital, were split randomly into two
groups. One group followed standard advice and were
exclusively breastfed for around six months.
second group was asked to introduce six allergenic
foods to their infants from the age of three months.
The allergenic foods introduced to these infants
were: fish, cooked egg, milk, wheat, sesame and
Breastfeeding is best for babies and both groups
were asked to follow the Government’s
recommendations to continue to breastfeed their
children up to the age of two years or beyond.
Breastfeeding rates were the same in both groups
with more than 96% of infants still being breastfed
at six months of age and over 50% in both groups at
one year of age.
study looked at what impact the amount of allergenic
food eaten had on food allergy as well as
considering how often it was eaten and for how long.
It found that the prevention of food allergy may be
achieved with weekly consumption of approximately
one and half teaspoons of peanut butter and one
small boiled egg.
Scientific Adviser at the Food Standards Agency Guy
Poppy said: 'The FSA has an important role to play
in helping consumers manage food allergies and this
includes expanding our knowledge about how allergies
develop. This research is an important part of that
work. These findings will add to the body of
scientific evidence that helps us inform public
health policies and guidelines on infant feeding.
While this study will be of interest to parents, we
would advise them to continue to follow existing
Government infant feeding advice. It should also be
emphasised that this research was carried out under
guidance of allergy professionals.'
Professor Gideon Lack, Principal Investigator, said:
'The results of the analysis of infants who managed
to consume the recommended amount are most striking
for peanut and add to the growing body of evidence
from our other studies, that early introduction of
peanut prevents the development of peanut allergy in
both a high risk population of children with eczema
and in a general population.'
Michael Perkin, St George’s University of London
Co-Principal Investigator, said: 'Through the
remarkable efforts of families from throughout
England and Wales we have gained huge insights into
what may be necessary to help protect infants from
developing food allergies. The study will yield
important results for a number of years to come.'
Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) Study - Final Report
New England Journal of Medicine
Effect of Avoidance on Peanut Allergy after Early