My infant daughter was treated to rice cereal for the first time the other night. Like with my first child, I fretted over when exactly to introduce solids (many guidelines suggest four to six months, but four months just seemed so small to me), and I'm sure I would have had a tougher time if I had to worry about allergies, too. I know in families with a history of food allergies, some parents hold off on introducing certain foods.
As it turns out, delaying solids may actually help lead to food allergies. MedPageToday describes the results of a Finnish study of 994 children:
Introducing eggs, oats, and wheat into an infant's diet late in the game -- around age 6 months -- was associated with food allergies by age 5, Bright I. Nwaru, MPhil, MSc, of the University of Tampere, and colleagues reported online in Pediatrics.
...The researchers found that late introduction of potatoes, oats, rye, wheat, meat, fish, and eggs was significantly associated with a sensitization for food allergy, albeit after different time periods: 4 months for potatoes, 5 months for oats, 7 months for rye, 6 months for wheat, 5.5 months for meat, 8.2 months for fish, and 10.5 months for eggs.
Researcher Nwaru goes on to say:
"The implication of our study on breastfeeding and introduction of solid foods -- like other recent studies have shown -- is that prolonging exclusive breastfeeding, thereby introducing solid foods late, may not prevent allergic diseases in the child."