Shifting away from earlier, common advice, doctors and allergists are now saying that introducing children to allergenic foods early may help to reduce the risk of developing a severe allergy later on.
A committee of experts from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is saying that evidence is pointing towards early exposure being a risk reducer.
The guidelines the Academy introduced Thursday are flying in the face of what many parents have been told by their pediatricians and the popular press. The shift, however, comes thanks to new evidence the AAAAI says shows that withholding exposure may increase risks.
Lowering Risk Through Early Exposure
The committee cites seven studies that, though preliminary, suggest that delaying food introduction beyond 4 to 6 months of age could increase risks of allergies or eczema. They suggest introducing new allergenic foods at a rate of one new food every three to five days (or more) in such a way that the food can be quickly removed and treatment sought if a reaction occurs.
The new guidelines have been published in a January paper by allergist David Fleischer of National Jewish Health and will be presented officially in October at a national meeting of pediatricians in Florida.
The new guidelines are similar to those introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2008, but take them a step further by advising more introduction rather than focusing purely on the evidence showing that delaying does not reduce risks.