2,586 breastfeeding mothers participated in the study. They completed surveys when their infants were four, nine and 12 months old. The women were asked how long they breastfed and whether their infants suffered from food intolerances.
The results of the analysis were as follows:
- The majority of the infants, around 85%, had no problems.
- Nearly 11% reacted to something they ate.
- 4% reacted to food products they were exposed to via breast milk.
- An additional 2.4% of the infants reacted to both food they consumed directly and food they were exposed to via breastfeeding.
The infants with food allergies were breastfed significantly longer than the comparison group. Those who reacted to foods via breast milk were breastfed a mean of 46 weeks, while those who reacted to both exposure to food via breast milk and food they ate themselves were breastfed a mean of 40 weeks. Children with no food allergies were breastfed for around 32 weeks, and those who reacted to food they ate themselves were breastfed for 27 weeks.
“Breastfeeding for the first few months of life helps the developing immune system, affects the microbiome and could prevent the development of allergies”, says Robbins.
But it also makes sense to transition to solid food at the right moment. “Gradually transitioning to solid food gives infants an opportunity to sample an array of foods, so that the immune system can become familiar with potentially allergy triggering substances early on”, adds Robbins.
The paediatrician calls for further studies to investigate the connection between the indicated factors and a food allergy or intolerance.
The latest German guidelines on allergy prevention recommend that solid foods be introduced at four months of age. Waiting longer does not prevent future allergies. The guidelines are from 2014 and are currently being revised.
Original source: Robbins KA. Perceived food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance and its impact on breastfeeding practices.
Posterpräsentation der Studienleiterin Karen A. Robbins M.D., Children’s National Health System, Washington D.C., USA, beim jährlichen Treffen der Amerikanischen Gesellschaft für Allergie, Asthma und Immunologie (AAAI), 25.2.2019