A small study, out of Great Britain, looked at the ever growing issue of children with food allergies. They found that children who were introduced to solid foods after the age of 17 week and who also continued to receive breast milk while experimenting with solids were far less likely to have food allergies than children who did not meet those criteria.
The cause of food allergies are still unknown, as is the role of breast milk in preventing allergies. One researcher posed a theory that the mother's milk can "teach" the child's immune system to tolerate the new foods. More research is necessary as we face an epidemic of pediatric food allergies.
It is estimated that 1 in 13 school aged children suffer from a food allergy, prompting some schools and camps to ban one of the most deadly culprits - peanut butter. 50 years ago food allergies were relatively rare. There are many hypotheses as to the cause of the epidemic ranging from children not being exposed to the same level of "dirt and microbes" as kids were a generation ago; to not being exposed to enough sunlight to supply sufficient Vitamin D to stimulate their immune systems.
The Breastfeeding study, published in the November online journal of Pediatrics, supports the current guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics allergy prevention guidelines. The guidelines recommend no solid for before 4 to 6 months of age. The Academy also recommends breastfeeding should continue while solids are being introduced, preferably, for the first year of life.
More studies need to be done so that researchers can begin to understand the causes of food allergies. Finding the cause could lead to finding the cure. If your child is suffering from gastrointestinal distress, the cause could be allergies. Call for an appointment with one of our pediatric specialist to discuss your child's health, if you are a new patient you can also use this to request an appointment.