Delaying the introduction of solid food beyond 6 months of age does not protect against the development of allergic dermatitis, the results of a new study show. However, delayed introduction of solid food for the first 4 months of life “might offer some protection.”
Scientific evidence in support of World Health Organization feeding guidelines for the prevention of allergic diseases, which call for introduction of solid foods to be delayed until 6 months of age, is “scarce, inconsistent, and based on a few studies only,” researchers from Germany note in the medical journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Anne Zutavern from the National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg and colleagues investigated the timing of solid food introduction in relation to allergy-based skin reactions and sensitivity in 2,612 infants enrolled in an ongoing study.
Giving infants a high diversity of solid foods within the first 4 months of life increased the risk of allergic dermatitis within 6 to 24 months of life, the authors note. However, there was no increase in doctor-diagnosed allergic dermatitis or sensitization, they point out.
There was also no evidence to support a protective role of delaying the introduction of solid foods on the development of allergic dermatitis and sensitization in children who had parents with allergies.
Allergy symptoms may develop very early in life, the authors also suggest, before parents decide when to introduce solids.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, February 2006.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.