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Allergy experts release new feeding guidelines

11th of December

Leading allergy specialists have released new advice on when infants should be fed solid (complementary) foods, including foods that are considered to be allergenic.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) has published this advice, based on new evidence which is inconsistent with previous recommendations to delay the introduction of solids foods beyond six months to prevent food allergies from developing in children.

“Current evidence does not support the delayed introduction of solid foods, including allergenic foods into infant diets beyond six months,” said allergy specialist Professor Susan Prescott who was one of the lead authors of the document.

“There are even some limited studies which suggest that delayed introduction of solid foods beyond six months of age may actually be to blame for an increased risk of food allergy, coeliac disease and autoimmunity, although further studies are needed to confirm this.”

The document entitled ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice, is based on current scientific evidence regarding introduction of foods and the development of allergic disease in children.

“The development of allergic diseases in children continues to be an area which is complex and not well understood,” said Professor Prescott.

“The best timing for introducing solid foods into infant diets is a controversial topic that has recently undergone review by several professional and regulatory bodies.”

The ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice document was developed in response to the urgent need to clarify discrepancies between established infant feeding guidelines and new information.

Professor Prescott said that recent publications challenged previous recommendations.

The document was developed by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) . The European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and the American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) have also recently updated their advice regarding introduction of solid foods to infants.

Professor Prescott said that the ASCIA Infant Feeding Advice should provide a useful reference tool for organisations, health professionals and parents and guardians.

Click here to view the guidelines.