True or false: delaying introduction of a food increases an infant’s chance of becoming allergic to it

We don’t know. Common practice has been to delay introduction as long as possible, but new research out of Australia suggests this practice is dead wrong, at least pertaining to eggs:

From The Australian: New egg and baby study scrambles old thinking on allergies

Over 2,500 infants were tested with egg allergic reaction skin tests starting at age 4 to 6 months and subsequently at 12 months. The study was intended to reveal whether sensitivity at 12 months was related to how long the babies were breastfed, when solids were introduced into their diets, and when egg was introduced. The authors concluded that the initial age at which egg was introduced was significant and the other two variables were not. The later the age, the more likely an allergic reaction.

The original study, “Can early introduction of egg prevent egg allergy in infants? A population-based study,” is gated, published at The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 126, Issue 4 , Pages 807-813, October 2010. That copy is gated, costing $31.50. I have not located an ungated version.

The abstract is here.

My biggest question with this finding is how long does the sensitivity persist beyond 12 months? Would infants who just had egg introduced at 11-1/2 months still have a higher likelihood of sensitivity at say, 24 months or 36?


About Tom

Tom Anichini owns Egg-Free Epicurean along with his wife, Amy Jones Anichini, who founded the business in 2009. Tom is an actuary and an investment professional. He holds an MBA in Finance from the Chicago Booth School of Business and a BS in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois. He is also a CFA charter holder and an Associate of the Society of Actuaries. He lives in San Diego with his wife and two daughters.
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