Objective: To investigate if the development of allergic diseases during the child’s first 18 months of life is influenced by the time at which different food items were introduced into the child’s diet.
Method: A birth cohort of 184 children was followed to 18 months of age. Diaries were used to document feeding practices, and parental interviews were performed at 6 and 12 months of age, probing for symptoms suggesting allergic disease, general health-related issues and food introduction regimes. Symptoms promoted prompt clinical examination, and all children were examined clinically, and tested for sensitization to common airborne and food allergens at 18 months of age.
Results: The earlier the fish was introduced into the child’s diet the lower was the frequency of eczema. This association remained after control for confounding factors. The timing of fish introduction and asthma development showed a similar pattern, but did not reach statistical significance. Sensitization was not influenced by the timing of fish introduction. Other food items or feeding practices did not seem to influence allergy development.
Conclusion: Early introduction of fish into the child’s diet was associated with less eczema development, and a tendency to less asthma. Sensitization was not associated with the timing of fish introduction.