A recent study, “Age at the Introduction of Solid Foods During the First Year and Allergic Sensitization at Age 5 Years” published in the “Pediatrics” the official journal of the American Association of Pediatrics shows that late introduction of solid foods during infancy is directly related to the likelihood a food or inhalant sensitivity develops by age 5. The study involved 994 children with susceptibility to type 1 diabetes for whom information on breastfeeding, age at the introduction of solid foods, and allergen-specific immunoglobulin E levels at 5 years was available (using data from The Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Nutrition Study). The results of the study are reported as follows:
Late introduction of potatoes (>4 months), oats (>5 months), rye (>7 months), wheat (>6 months), meat (>5.5 months), fish (>8.2 months), and eggs (>10.5 months) was significantly directly associated with sensitization to food allergens. Late introduction of potatoes, rye, meat, and fish was significantly associated with sensitization to any inhalant allergen. In models that included all solid foods that were significantly related to the end points, eggs, oats, and wheat remained the most important foods related to sensitization to food allergens, whereas potatoes and fish were the most important foods associated with inhalant allergic sensitization. We found no evidence of reverse causality, taking into account parental allergic rhinitis and asthma.
In the same issue of Pediatrics another study, “Food Allergy Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs of Primary Care Physicians” reports that of the 407 primary care physicians surveyed, 99% of them reported caring for a patient with food allergies. The physicians answered 61% of the knowledge based questions correctly and fewer than 30% of the doctors felt comfortable interpreting laboratory tests to diagnose food allergy or felt adequately prepared by their medical training to care for food-allergic children. This study concludes:
Knowledge of food allergy among primary care physicians was fair. Opportunities for improvement exist, as acknowledged by participants’ own perceptions of their clinical abilities in the management of food allergy.
We can therefore conclude, as a result of these two studies, that food allergies are still somewhat of a mystery to the medical community.