Experts have questioned the practice of introducing new single-ingredients foods to newborns adjusting to solids suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the new study, the concept of introducing new single-ingredients foodstuff separately and waiting for three to five days before trying a portion of new food to examine whether the child reacts to the diet may be old-fashioned and even potentially harmful.
The new study examined 563 health practitioners. Most of them were practitioners who were in charge of babies under one year. The main objective of the survey was to investigate the existing practices by pediatric healthcare staff and was carried out at the beginning of 2019. The study found out that most of the respondents did not adhere to CDC and AAP guidelines, but instead proposed a shorter timeline based on clinical experience.
A Chicago doctor and an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, WaheedaSamady, said there was proof that food diversity helped to decrease the development of allergic diseases in infants, and early peanut introduction was an essential peanut allergy prevention approach.
About two-thirds of the respondents suggested waiting less than three days to parents. 27 per cent recommended introducing one new food a day, while 20 per cent suggested waiting two days. Ten per cent felt that parents should add multiple meals in a single day. About 30 per cent told parents to wait three days, while just over eight per cent recommended waiting for more than three days. From this study, researchers did not find any significant link between food introduction practices and the demographics of the health practitioners.
The researchers noted that regardless of the concern around allergy likelihood, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases currently suggests that infants with atopic dermatitis, or eczema, be given foods that contain peanuts between four and six months. Nonetheless, peanuts should only be given after several other new menus have been introduced. Therefore, if parents wait three to five days between the introductions of each new food, peanut introduction may be delayed past the recommended ages.
Only 55 per cent of practitioners alleged the waiting period between new foods was significant. Still, more than 55 per cent of those surveyed reported having seen food-related allergic reactions in less than 5 per cent of infant patients, while nearly 20 per cent reported seeing it occur in five to 10 per cent of babies. Limiting early infant food diversity has been said to be linked to a high risk of allergies. The study noted that giving infants a diverse diet during the first year of life is connected to a reduced risk of food allergies, asthma, and atopic dermatitis, up to six years.
Current guidelines suggest parents limit their children’s food exposure when they introduce only five to seven new food items a month. Over half of the respondents said there was a need for more training on the matter, while nearly 47 per cent felt that the infant cereal should be their first food. However, 40 per cent did not suggest the type of food that should be considered as the primary food.
Dr Ruchi Gupta, Director of the Center of Food Allergy and Asthma Research (CFAAR) and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern, said from the perspective of food allergy prevention and detection there was no reason why a new food couldn’t be tried every day. Besides, he said the guidelines needed to be updated and revisited to reflect the latest research on food allergy prevention and to provide further clarity for pediatricians and parents on safe, solid food introduction to infants.