Southampton university research has found that introducing solid food to babies whilst breastfeed could reduce food allergies.
The research suggested that giving babies solid food beside breast feeding helps it develop a better, stronger immune system to fight food allergies.
Babies are largely intolerant of solid food before four to six months of age. This is because their gut is relatively immature.
The study included 1140 babies from Hampshire. 41 of these children went onto to develop a food allergy by the time they were two years of age. The diet of these infants was compared with the diet of 82 infants who did not develop food allergy by the time they were two.
– Dr Kate Grimshaw, dietitian and senior research fellow at University of Southampton
It appears the immune system becomes educated when there is an overlap of solids and breast milk because the milk promotes tolerogenic mechanisms against the solids.
Additionally, our findings suggest 17 weeks is a crucial time point, with solid food introduction before this time appearing to promote allergic disease whereas solid food introduction after that time point seems to promote tolerance.