Can early introduction of egg prevent egg allergy in infants? A population-based study.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Infant feeding guidelines have long recommended delaying introduction of solids and allergenic foods to prevent allergy in high-risk infants, despite a paucity of evidence. OBJECTIVE We aimed to determine whether confirmed egg allergy in 12-month-old infants is associated with (1) duration of breast-feeding and (2) ages of introducing egg and solids. METHODS In a population-based cross-sectional study (HealthNuts) parents reported on infant feeding and potential confounding factors before skin prick testing for egg white. Egg-sensitized infants were then offered an egg oral food challenge. Multiple logistic regression was used to investigate associations between diet and egg allergy adjusted for possible confounding factors. RESULTS A total of 2589 infants (73% response) participated. Compared with introduction at 4 to 6 months, introducing egg into the diet later was associated with higher risks of egg allergy (adjusted odds ratios [ORs], 1.6 [95% CI, 1.0-2.6] and 3.4 [95% CI, 1.8-6.5] for introduction at 10-12 and after 12 months, respectively). These findings persisted even in children without risk factors (OR, 3.3 [95% CI, 1.1-9.9]; 10-12 months). At age 4 to 6 months, first exposure as cooked egg reduced the risk of egg allergy compared with first exposure as egg in baked goods (OR, 0.2 [95% CI, 0.06-0.71]). Duration of breast-feeding and age at introduction of solids were not associated with egg allergy. CONCLUSIONS Introduction of cooked egg at 4 to 6 months of age might protect against egg allergy. Changes in infant feeding guidelines could have a significant effect on childhood egg allergy and possibly food allergy more generally.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.028
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