Although the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and others recommend that parents delay the introduction solid foods for 4 to 6 months in order to lower a child's allergy risk, new research is suggesting that this may not be such wise advice.
A new study by German researchers has queried the effectiveness of this strategy and says no evidence was found to support such a recommendation.
The researchers from the GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg, found in fact that the delayed introduction of solids beyond 4 or 6 months did not lower children's risk of nasal allergies, asthma or sensitization to common food allergens.
The research team looked at the complete records of 2,073 children and carried out a 6-year follow-up, and they found that those who received no solid foods before 4 to 6 months of age did not have a lower risk of allergies and asthma.
According to the researchers there is scant scientific evidence to support the recommendation to delay the introduction of solid foods issued by the WHO and the AAP.
The researchers say the one possible exception was the skin condition eczema because they found that those who had been given solid foods before 4 months of age were more likely to develop eczema later in life.
They say the possibility that delaying solid foods helps lower a child's eczema risk cannot be excluded.
Dr. Joachim Heinrich, the senior researcher from the Ludwig-Maximillians Universitat in Munich, says parents however should not ignore advice on delaying solid foods as infants need to be developed enough to chew and properly swallow solid foods.
Many experts recommend that, for overall health and development, babies should ideally be breast-fed exclusively for the first 6 months and other research has found that breast feeding a baby can reduce their risk of developing allergies.