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Role of Infant Nutrition in Atopic Disease Examined

American Academy of Pediatrics reviews research on efficacy of various dietary interventions

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- There is inadequate evidence to demonstrate that dietary restrictions during pregnancy or after the ages of 4 to 6 months have any protective effect on the development of atopic disease in children, according to a clinical report published in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Frank R. Greer, M.D., and colleagues on the Committee on Nutrition and Section on Allergy and Immunology of the American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed current research on the impact of nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children. The report does not address the treatment of atopic disease once symptoms have developed.

In children with a parent or sibling with allergic disease, evidence suggests that breast-feeding for at least four months, compared with feeding formula made with intact cow milk protein, prevents or delays the occurrence of atopic dermatitis, cow milk allergy and wheezing in early childhood. Evidence does not support a similar protective effect against the development of later allergic asthma. Modest evidence suggests that, for high-risk infants who are not exclusively breast-fed for four to six months, the use of hydrolyzed formulas compared with formula made with intact cow milk protein could delay or prevent the onset of atopic disease, particularly atopic dermatitis.

"It is evident that inadequate study design and/or a paucity of data currently limits the ability to draw firm conclusions about certain aspects of atopy prevention through dietary interventions," the authors conclude.

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