Food Allergy Protection’s Critical Window

March 27, 2020 2 min read

Food Allergy Protection’s Critical Window

Food allergy protection starts earlier than you may think. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies start solids between 4 and 6 months of age.

Contrary to decades of pediatric advice, research now says early and regular dietary exposure to a food — specifically a food often associated with allergies, like peanut — helps reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to that food.1

Why? It has to do with how babies' and toddlers' immune systems learn about food as they grow up. Somewhat incredibly, 70% of your baby's immune cells reside in the lining of her stomach and GI tract.2 Consistently exposing your baby's tummy to a food helps train her immune system to see this food as food, rather than as a threat or an allergen.

The LEAP study taught us that early introduction of peanut to infants between 4-11 months of age, fed at least 3x a week, for five years was safe and reduced development of peanut allergy by 86%.3

We also know that in the EAT study, 98% of babies who were fed foods like peanuts, sesame, eggs, fish and dairy by five months of age and who kept those foods in their diets regularly did not develop a food allergy.4

This is why it’s so important for parents to begin incorporating diverse foods, including potential allergens, in their babies’ diet as early as 4 - 6 months and continue this routine through early childhood.

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 Du Toit G, et al; LEAP Study Team. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(9):803-813.

Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.

3 Du Toit G, et al; LEAP Study Team. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(9):803-813.

4 Perkin M, et al; EAT Study Team. Randomized trial of introduction of allergenic foods in breast-fed infants. N Engl J Med. 2016;374(18):1733-1743.