Early solids -cause or prevent allergies? Early being before 6 months.

Merry - posted on 11/09/2010 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I have always been told that early solids cause allergies. I have found many many articles saying that the longer you wait the better off for the baby not developing allergies to that food.
Even as far as some breastfeeding moms with strong family history of allergies being advised to not introduce solids until one year old to prevent allergies.

Now I keep seeing here and there a mom saying you should start solids at 4 months to prevent allergies, saying there is 'research' proving that early introduction to wheat or other foods prevent allergies.
And that delaying solids causes allergies.

*******PLEASE keep personal experiences out of this, I'm looking for some articles, facts, recommendations, some solid evidence of the truth.*********

If you believe that early solids prevent allergies, post your sources here.
If you believe that early solids cause allergies, post your sources here.

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Minnie - posted on 11/09/2010

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I agree, Catherine.



One thing that concerns me though about the line of reasoning- you say that your son has allergies and you followed the guidelines for delaying solids- and I understand your hesitation to believe that breastfeeding is protective against such allergies considering your personal experience- is that this can be extended to many aspects of breastfeeding.



Research has shown that breastfeeding is protective against a plethora of maladies- diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. Of course there are people who were breastfed and still are aflicted with these problems. If breastfeeding isn't protective then why breastfeed?



The problem with the researchers not using infants exclusively breastfed is that they are not looking at it as breastfeeding being the normative way an infant is biologically designed to be fed. Rather, studies should be coming from the angle of "since breastfeeding is the normal way to feed an infant, what risks are there to NOT breastfeeding- what risks are there to reducing the time that an infant is exclusively breastfed?" For it to be an accurate study, each infant should have been exclusively breastfed for the same amount of time.



One thing I want to add about each organization having an agenda- which one benefits most from early introduction of solids? LLL, which is a non-profit organization that seeks to help mothers breastfeed and improve national health? Or baby-food companies?

Catherine - posted on 11/09/2010

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I'm not sure what I think on this subject because the research is all over the map, and there seems to be absolutely nothing conclusive available. In the pediatric practice I bring my son to, there is a doctor who is a pediatric allergy expert. When I asked her about it, she also said that there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other about the connections between introducing solid foods and allergies. I know you believe that the foods should be introduced later, so I included some links below with some more recent research arguing just the opposite. Since it seems to be impossible for us to prove a link between introducing solids and preventing/causing allergies, I'm starting to wonder if that actually has nothing to do with it and if we need to begin looking elsewhere to find the cause.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B...

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.a...

http://www.medpagetoday.com/AllergyImmun...

Minnie - posted on 11/09/2010

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Every major medical organization supports delaying of solids. Current research demonstrates a permeable gut that does not close until at least six to eight months.



http://www.llli.org/FAQ/solids.html

http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids...



From the Eighth edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding:



"If a baby has anything besides your milk before the lining of his intestines becomes pretty well sealed against allergens (allergy producers) at around six months, some of those substances slip through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. Your baby's body reads them as invading forces and produces antibodies against them. Problems such as eczema can result.



Saarinen, U. and. M. Kajosaari. 1995. Breastfeeding as a prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years old. Lancet 346(8982):1065-1069



LLLI is the world's foremost authority on breastfeeding and has extensive access to numerous resources such as members of its health advisory council (Drs. Jack Newman and Thomas Hale for starters), IBCLCs and their training, and peer-reviewed research from the Center for Breastfeeding Information.



http://www.health-e-learning.com/article...



The above article is from Health E-Learning, an approved institution for breastfeeding education by the AARC.



Refuting flawed studies on early introduction of solids (the infants in the studies suggesting early introduction were not exclusively breastfed):



Chertok, I.R. 2007. The importance of exclusive breastfeeding in infants at risk for celiac disease. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 32(1): 50-54.



Norris, J.M. et al. 2005. Risk of celiac disease autoimmunity and timing of gluten introduction in the diet of infants at increased risk of disease. JAMA 293(19): 2343-2351.

Rachel - posted on 11/11/2010

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I have known too many babies that have developed severe allergies to first regular formula then soy formula then to rice... basically they end up allergic to everythign that they are fed. I had also heard that some babies will refuse solids up to 9 months or more as an almost instinctual safty feature because of possible allergies... my son was like that, I could nto get any food in him till 9 months.

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Jennifer - posted on 08/13/2012

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My son has severe allergies to Dairy, Egg and Peanut (they all presented prior to 8 months old) and his allergist was very admit in stressing that while there are studies that encourage early introduction to prevent, that at this time there is NOT a definitive answer to your question.

Merry - posted on 11/09/2010

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Ok the last article mentions nothing about breast vs formula for any test groups so I can't say I'd count their evidence as conclusive!
Thanks again for posting those, any more anyone has please post!

Merry - posted on 11/09/2010

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So the third article is the same as the first! It says the average breastfeeding was 1.8 months! So if formula causes allergies, then the damage was done before any solid foods were introduced.
So the article isn't accurate in predicting how solids affect allergies because formula, another allergy causer was used first.
But thanks for the articles Catherine, I needed to see how these moms got their info and that helps. :)

Merry - posted on 11/09/2010

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Ok second article, to me it sounds like it's fairly accurate and just an obviously American source :)
I think the 4-6 months thing is quite common in America and most associations fear to take away that 4 month mark cuz it stirs up trouble!
So I think essentially, that article sounds reasonable, buti would just change the4-6 months to 6-8 months!
But then again formula isn't able to sustain most babies that long so unless the writer wanted to give serrate advise for formula or breast it's not right to group it all together.

Merry - posted on 11/09/2010

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Wow, this took off! Thanks for the articles Catherine, I read one, and will read the others too.
I think that the risks of formula are the same risks as early solids which is why the first article is flawed.
Formula causes more allergies, so it's not able to prove if the early solids caused allergies or the formula did!
I always say that anyone who tries to side against breatfeeding is not someone who cares for infants health. So I would never trust an article that is wishy washy breast to formula.
Ok I'll read some more articles and see what I find!

Amy - posted on 11/09/2010

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My doctor stated that allergy specialists have decided in unison and almost overnight that if someone is going to have allergies they are going to have them regardless of when a food is introduced. With that being said my doctor did not encourage us to start solids till about 6 months of age. He said that if we wanted to start it earlier we could but never more then an ounce on any given day. At 6 months he said that we could give solids twice a day. He said that you no longer have to hold off on foods because of allergies which is different information from 4 years ago. The reason it is suggested to hold off solids till at least 6 months is because their stomachs can not digest it, and their primary source of nutritien for the first year is breastmilk/formula. I think too often moms start replacing breastmilk with solids because of misinformation, but that's a different topic!

[deleted account]

We didn't have any family history of allergies. I wasn't too concerned with them. The reason I waited was because I wanted to be sure her gut was ready to handle solids. Just like everything else you can find research for and against starting solids early. I absolutely would not even consider solids until my daughter could sit unsupported. She did that at 6 months, but wasn't interested in solids. I wasn't going to force her to eat them. Listen to your baby. They know. :)

Catherine - posted on 11/09/2010

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Lisa, I do agree that studies with infants who are breastfed for the same amount of time are important, but I think studies from the opposite angle (maybe children who were never breastfed) can be equally valid as a control group. When I read your response, I see someone who really, really wants EBF to be the answer, and therefore you want the scientists to start from the assumption that it is the answer and try to prove that. I would like EBF to be the answer, but I'm not convinced it is. What if breastfeeding has nothing to do with infant allergies? What if we've been looking at it all wrong the entire time? Before my experience with my son, I would tout off the list of reasons as to why breastfeeding was best, but then I had a child who is sick all the time, has eczema, and has allergies -- all things breastfeeding is supposed to prevent -- so that has made me a little less sure of myself. I know that nothing is perfect, and my son may be the oddball, but it made me question some of the absolutes that groups like LLL discuss. Looking at all these studies, the answer is, we don't know, but based on our own opinions and experiences, we gravitate towards the studies and opinions that back us up and assume they have more validity than those we oppose, when in reality they may not.

Just like we've gone back and forth on the best diet for adults (low-fat, low-cal, low-carb, etc.), we go back and forth on the best diets for babies. I firmly believe that EBF is a good thing, but my personal experiences have opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe we need to at least open our minds to consider opposing viewpoints. Nothing is black and white, as all this conflicting research shows.

Catherine - posted on 11/09/2010

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Lisa, I totally see your point; however, that's starting from the assumption that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months prevents allergies, which is exactly what the study is questioning.

I think the essential thing to consider is that EVERYONE has an agenda when they do research or post it to their websites, including LLL and kellymom. Since both of those sites support EBF, of course they only post research that also supports it, and that's something that we always need to consider and we always need to look to those who don't agree with us to get the other side of the story.

I've posted a few more articles below. As I said before, I'm not sure what I believe about food allergies and I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding, but I know that I followed the LLL guidelines and my son has terrible eczema and allergies, so their plan is not foolproof. I do know that if you want a full view of an issue, then you need to look to those who do not agree with you and not just look at the research touted by those who do.

http://en.scientificcommons.org/18308819

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0...

Minnie - posted on 11/09/2010

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The problem with the first article is this:



To investigate, the researchers looked at 994 children participating in a study of diabetes prevention. All had been followed since infancy. The average duration of exclusive breastfeeding among the children was less than two months.



Often when studies are done on breastfeeding it is not taken into account the duration of the breastfeeding or whether it is exclusive or not. I'm not sure how they can come to the conclusion that breastfeeding was not protective against development of allergies if the children were not exclusively breastfed until six months- which was the very fact they were attempting to study.



The last article is summarizing the exact same study the first article covered- which was flawed research.

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