Saturday, November 30, 2013

Breast Feeding Helps Prevent Food Allergies

A piece of folk medical belief that has been around for at least 30 years is that breastfeeding a child for longer, and delaying the first solid food, can help prevent food allergies. Recent research confirms that this is true:
After controlling for birth weight, the duration of pregnancy, maternal allergies and many other factors, they found that 17 weeks was the crucial age: babies who were introduced to solids before this age were significantly more likely to develop food allergies.

The study, published online in Pediatrics, found that continuing to breast-feed while introducing cow’s milk also had a protective effect against allergies. The authors suggest that the immunologic factors in breast milk are what provide the advantage.

“Don’t introduce solids until 17 weeks,” said the lead author, Kate E. C. Grimshaw, a nutritionist at the University of Southampton, “and if you can wait longer, that’s fine, too. At whatever age you begin solid foods, you should continue breast-feeding as well. And for those who cannot breast-feed, the advice not to introduce solid foods until 17 weeks is still applicable.”

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