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Infant feeding and the development of food allergies and atopic eczema: An update

Authors


  • Sarah E Gamboni, BMBS, BSc(Hons). Katrina J Allen, FRACP, PhD. Rosemary L Nixon, FACD, FAFOEM.
  • Conflict of interest: Katrina Allen has received speaker's honorarium from Abbott, Danone and Pfizer.

Correspondence: Dr Sarah E Gamboni, Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre, Skin & Cancer Foundation, Melbourne, Vic. 3053, Australia. Email: sarahgamboni@hotmail.com

Abstract

There is an increasing awareness of food allergies in the community. Dermatologists frequently see patients with atopic eczema, where parents are extremely concerned about the role of food allergy. Advice given to parents regarding the timing of introduction of solid foods has changed markedly over the past decade. Whereas previous advice advocated delaying the introduction of solid foods until the infant's gastrointestinal system had matured, recent studies suggest that the introduction of solids from around 4 to 6 months may actually prevent the development of allergies. Studies on maternal dietary restrictions during pregnancy and lactation have led researchers to believe that antigen avoidance does not play a significant role in the prevention of atopic disease. Breastfeeding exclusively for 4 to 6 months has multiple benefits for mother and child, however, it does not convincingly prevent food allergies or decrease atopic eczema. New evidence suggests that the use of hydrolysed formulas does not delay or prevent atopic eczema or food allergy. This article aims to highlight current evidence and provide an update for dermatologists on the role of food exposure in the development of atopic disease, namely atopic eczema.

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