ATLANTA — Parents who alternate between formula feeding, pumping milk and breastfeeding their children within the first 6 months of the child’s life may be putting their children at risk for food allergy symptoms compared to those children exclusively breastfed, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
“Our findings are in conflict with the studies that suggest early exposure to multiple allergens in the initial stages of life could prevent food sensitization,” Joacy Magadalene Gerard Mathias, a doctoral graduate assistant in the division of epidemiology, biostatistics and environmental health at the University of Memphis, said in a press release. “In this prospective birth cohort, it appears that multiple sources of allergens due to a mixed feeding pattern may pose a higher risk for food allergy. It is possible that too much exposure to a variety of antigens is a risk factor for food allergy.”
In the current study, Mathias and colleagues analyzed data from pregnant women who participated in the CDC and FDA’s Infant Feeding Practice Study II. Information regarding the child’s feeding practices was gathered on a monthly basis for the first year of his or her life, and food allergy related information was gathered at 4 months, 9 months, 12 months and 6 years.
According to researchers, complete infant feeding patterns data, as well as information on doctors diagnosed food allergy and food allergy symptoms, was available on 1,387 participants.
Mathias and colleagues reported that for food allergy symptoms, children exposed to the various kinds of infant feeding patterns had a higher risk of food allergy compared to the direct feeding at breast group (RR = 1.57; 95% CI, 1.09-2.25).
Mathias acknowledged the conflict between her study and others, and suggested more research be done to explore the differences between feeding methods and food allergies before drawing conclusions on advice to give clinicians.
“Based on this one study alone I cannot give [clinicians] any advice [to give their patients],” she said during a press conference. “We need more studies before I can give a suggestion.” – by Janel Miller
Reference: Mathias, JMG, et al. Abstract L32. Presented at: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting; March 3-6, 2017; Atlanta.
Further Reading: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/ifps/index.htm (accessed 03-04-17)
Disclosure: Mathias reports no relevant disclosures. Healio Family Medicine was unable to confirm the other researchers’ disclosures prior to publication.