A new study suggests something parents can do to prevent infants from developing common food intolerances.

By Gillie Houston
Updated May 24, 2017
Credit: © Tara Fisher

For many parents, food allergies are a primary concern. But a new study suggests that there could be something you can do to your kids from developing common food intolerances.

In a recent study from McMaster University in Canada, researchers found that babies fed cow's milk, eggs, and peanuts before the age of one were less likely to display sensitivities to those foods as they grew, and could possibly avoid developing allergies to those foods in the future. Eggs in particular were found to be extremely beneficial when introduced to the diet early on, as the study results showed that the intake of eggs reduced the risk of allergies to all three of the food groups.

As Science Daily reports, the study, directed by Department of Medicine professor Malcom Sears, is believed to be "the first to determine the effects of timing of food introduction on food sensitization," according to lead study investigator, Maxwell Tran. While many previous studies on the formation of allergies in young children have focused on one food type, later childhood, or high-risk groups, McMaster University's study focused on the earliest time of development across multiple commonly allergenic foods.

The results of the study came from analyzing the data of 1,421 children whose parents introduced products to their infants in either the 0-6 month period, 7-12 month period, or at 12 months. Parents filled out diet questionnaires at various stages in their infants' first year to monitor the intake of cow's milk products, eggs, and peanuts; what solid foods were eaten; and whether the child was exclusively breastfed up to six months. When the children turned one, they were given allergen tests to monitor their reactions to these common food triggers.

"Early introduction of allergenic foods before age one should be encouraged and is better than food avoidance for reducing the risk of food sensitization," Tran says. However, he also notes that "sensitization is not the same as allergy, but it is an important step on the pathway." Tran hopes that the results of this study will help to reinforce the shift away from delayed food introduction, as "many guidelines around the world are now reflecting this shift, with the recommendation of food introduction before 6 months of age."

While the study's data currently only reflects the experiences of one-year-old children, the research is positioned to monitor results to age five and beyond, to potentially determine if its truly possible to prevent a life filled with allergies by combating them with food itself.