Current guidelines on introducing solid foods to babies may hamper efforts to prevent food allergies, researchers say.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend introducing one, single-ingredient food at a time, then watching for food allergies for three to five days before introducing another new food.
But researchers from Northwestern University and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago say the wait might be too long because allergy is apparent within minutes to hours of eating a problematic food.
"Waiting for days between each new food introduction to infants limits food diversity in the infant diet and may delay peanut introduction," said study lead author Dr. Waheeda Samady, an assistant professor of pediatrics.
"There is now evidence that food diversity helps to decrease the development of allergic diseases in infants, and early peanut introduction is an important peanut allergy prevention strategy," she said in a hospital news release. "The current guidelines on solid food introduction to infants might interfere with efforts to prevent food allergies, and may need to be reevaluated, especially in light of the variability in pediatric practice found in our study."
Samady and her colleagues surveyed 563 pediatricians. Nearly two-thirds recommended waiting fewer than three days, and only half felt that waiting longer was helpful.
More than half said there is a need for more training on solid food introduction, according to the study published Aug. 17 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
"From the perspective of food allergy detection and prevention, there is no reason why a new food can't be tried every day," said senior author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, director of Northwestern's Center of Food Allergy and Asthma Research.
"The guidelines need to be revisited and updated to reflect the latest research on food allergy prevention and to provide greater clarity for pediatricians and parents on safe solid food introduction to infants," she added.
See what the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends on starting solid foods.