Timing of cereal introduction critical for allergy infant avoidance

Since the early 1990s the introduction of multiple foods at earlier than two to four months of age has been associated with allergic disease. A new study now suggests that delaying exposure to cereal grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats) until after six months may also increase the risk of developing wheat allergy.

A team at the University of Colorado and Health Sciences Centre in Denver followed 1,612 children from birth. Questionnaire data and dietary exposures were obtained at 3, 6, 9, 15 and 24 months and annually thereafter, with parental reports of wheat allergy followed up by clinical tests for wheat-specific IgE. Children with coeliac disease were excluded.

Of the children who were exposed to cereals before the age of six months, only 0.41% developed wheat allergy, whereas among those children who were not exposed to cereal grains until after six months of age, the percentage was 1.8 - more than four times as many.
Adding these latest findings to existing knowledge suggests that the optimum time for introducing cereal products into an infant's diet is between four and six months.

Paediatrics 2006: 117: 2175-2182

First Published in August 2006

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