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Breast-Feeding Cuts Food Allergy Risk
Date:11/14/2007

Other studies yield insights into these types of allergens, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Breast-feeding in the first three months of life appears to help shield children from developing food allergies.

That's just one of a number of findings on food allergies scheduled to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Dallas.

Research has determined a possible role for food allergy prevention strategies in high-risk children, including maternal food avoidance in pregnancy, breast-feeding, maternal food avoidance while breast-feeding, use of hyper-allergenic formulas, delayed introduction of allergenic foods and probiotics, noted one expert.

"A review of 18 studies demonstrates a significant protective effect of exclusive breast-feeding for at least three months for children with high risk for atopy (genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases) against the development of atopic dermatitis and early childhood asthma-like symptoms," Dr. Robert Wood, international health director for pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

He offered a number of recommendations for children at high risk of allergic diseases:

  • Women should avoid peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
  • Mothers should supplement breast-feeding with a hypoallergenic formula (extensively or partially hydrolyzed).
  • Delay feeding these children solid foods until they're six months old.
  • Delay introduction of milk and egg until age 1 and peanut and tree nuts until age 3.
  • Start early intervention when signs of food allergy appear (secondary prevention).

In a planned presentation about allergies and dietary restrictions, another expert noted that a person may have an allergy to one member of a food family, but may be able
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