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Primary prevention of food allergy in infants who are at risk

Høst, Arne; Halken, Susanne

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: June 2005 - Volume 5 - Issue 3 - p 255–259
doi: 10.1097/01.all.0000168791.89829.2a
Food allergy

Purpose of review Allergic diseases represent a major burden of health problems in industrialized countries. Though several studies have focused on possible preventive measure and strategies much controversy still exists on this topic. The aim of this review is to discuss the recent literature on primary prevention of food allergy.

Recent findings In prospective observational controlled studies of high quality of birth cohorts, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months combined with introduction of solid foods after 4 months of age is associated with a reduced risk of food allergy and atopic dermatitis, particularly in high-risk infants. When breastfeeding for 4–6 months is not possible or insufficient, randomized controlled trials have shown a significant reduction in food allergy and atopic dermatitis in high-risk infants fed a documented hypoallergenic hydrolysed formula.

Summary Breastfeeding should be encouraged for 4–6 months. In high-risk infants a documented hypoallergenic hydrolysed formula is recommended if exclusively breastfeeding is not possible for the first 4 months. As regards primary prevention of food allergy there is no evidence for preventive dietary intervention during neither pregnancy nor lactation. Likewise, preventive dietary restrictions after the age of 4–6 months are not scientifically documented.

Department of Pediatrics, Odense University Hospital, Denmark

Correspondence to Arne Høst, MD, DMSc, Department of Pediatrics, Odense University Hospital, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark Fax: +45 6591 1862; e-mail: arne.hoest@ouh.fyns-amt.dk

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.