A study published in Pediatrics found that delaying solid foods in infants until at least 17 weeks of age and continuing breast-feeding while introducing cow's milk proteins may reduce the likelihood of food allergies.
The study, lead by Kate E.C. Grimshaw, Ph.D., RD at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, assessed information from food diaries kept by the mothers of 41 infants diagnosed with a food allergy by the age of 2 years and those of 82 age-matched controls. The authors wanted to assess breast-feeding, complementary feeding and allergy development questions.
Infants who were diagnosed with food allergies by age 2 were usually introduced to solid foods earlier (before 16 weeks) and were less likely to be receiving breast milk when cow's milk protein was initially introduced into their diet.
The authors wrote:
This study supports the current American Academy of Pediatrics' allergy prevention recommendations and the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition recommendations on complementary feeding to not introduce solids before 4 to 6 months of age. It also supports the American Academy of Pediatrics' breastfeeding recommendations that breastfeeding should continue while solids are introduced into the diet.
The study abstract is available here.