Melbourne, July 12 (ANI): Babies who are solely breastfed for the first six months of life are at a greater risk of developing nut allergies as compared to those who are exposed to other food and fluids, a new study has revealed.
The research found that those children who were fed with only breast milk for the first six months were 1.5-times more likely to develop a nut allergy by the time they reached school age.
The Australian National University research also found children who were fed food and fluids apart from breast milk had a higher level of protection against nut allergies.
But the Australian Breastfeeding Association dismissed the findings and said that it would continue advocating exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of a baby's life.
ABA spokeswoman Meredith Laverty also said that she was concerned the study would put potential mothers off breastfeeding, particularly if they suffered an allergy themselves.
There have been studies of this kind before, and we still maintain, along with World Health Organization guidelines, that breastfeeding benefits far outweigh any potential harm for both mother and baby, news.com.au quoted her as saying.
We have yet to see a body of significant research to change our view - most research, actually does recommend that breastfeeding is still best.
In fact most studies suggest breastfeeding can actually reduce allergies the longer babies are breastfed, she said.
Laverty further added that the study was unclear on how many parents questioned had allergies and said concerned parents should seek professional advice from nutritionists or dieticians.
The research, between the ANU Medical School, and the ACT Health Directorate, investigated a link between breast feeding and nut allergies using the ACT Kindergarten Health Check Questionnaire given to the parents of children starting primary school in the Territory.
Parents were asked if their child suffered a nut allergy and what the child's feeding habits were in the fist six months of its life.
The study found that the rates of nut allergies in the ACT are increasing, with breastfed children more likely to be having one.
ANU Professor Marjan Kljakovic said the results of the study contributed to the argument that breastfeeding alone did not appear to protect children against nut allergies.
It may, in fact, be causative of allergy. Over time, health authorities' recommendations for infant feeding habits have changed, recommending complementary foods such as solids and formula be introduced later in life Prof Kljakovic said.
Despite breast feeding being recommended as the sole source of nutrition in the first six months of life, an increasing number of studies have implicated breast feeding as a cause of the increasing trend in nut allergy.
Peanut allergy accounts for two-thirds of all fatal food-induced allergic reactions. It is important for us to understand how feeding practices might be playing a part, Prof Kljakovic added.
The research was recently published in the International Journal of Pediatrics. (ANI)