Babies should start on solids at four months to cut food allergy risks, experts say

Starting babies on solid food from four months instead of six months of age can help prevent them from developing food allergies but there is no evidence prolonged breastfeeding does, new Australian guidelines suggest.

The Centre for Food and Allergy Research released the new guidelines following its recent summit in Melbourne to help cut confusion by making sure medical professionals are giving parents the same up-to-date information.

The Herald Sun reports Murdoch Childrens Research Institute paediatric gastroenterologist and allergist Professor Katie Allen told the summit the new guidelines made sure advice remained consistent across the board as many parents are already giving babies solids between four and six months of age.

“There still continues to be confusion, but what is emerging is a considered evidence base that is informing the experts,” Prof Allen says.

“We used to tell people to avoid peanut, eggs and cow’s milk, and now we’re saying introduction is safe and maybe even be protective.

“We used to say breastfeeding will protect but unfortunately there’s no evidence it does.”

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia president Maria Said says parents of high-risk children needed specific and practical guidelines.

“Early introduction doesn’t mean your child will never have a reaction, but the evidence says four months onwards this is what we need to be doing,” Ms Said says.

She says those with eczema or food allergies in the family should seek expert advice

“Perhaps don’t introduce this food on your own if your child is at moderate risk, make sure your partner is at home, don’t do it on a long weekend,” she says.

Dr Rosemary Stanton, of the National Health and Medical Research nutrition group compiling the latest guidelines, says it is dangerous for high-risk allergy foods to be avoided until babies are 12-24 months old but some community groups are still wrongly advising parents in this way.

(via Herald Sun)

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