, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 321-331
Date: 27 May 2012

Does Early Feeding Promote Development of Oral Tolerance?

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Abstract

The prevalence of food allergy has continued to rise over the last 10–15 years, with building concern over the underlying causes and the best strategies to reverse this. Although it is still not clear if infant feeding practices play any significant role in either the aetiology of this epidemic or in its prevention, these have nonetheless been core to many previous prevention strategies. Early ‘allergen avoidance’ strategies have not only failed, but have instead been increasingly associated with increased risk of allergic disease. Together with other observations in humans and animals, this suggests that earlier introduction of allergenic foods may be a more logical preventive strategy. Based on this, there are several randomised controlled trials world-wide assessing the merits of early introduction of complementary feeding and/or allergenic foods. Until the results of these studies are available it is difficult to provide definitive recommendations regarding the role of early feeding in the induction of oral tolerance and prevention of food allergy.