Introduction: There is controversy about the effect of dietary patterns during the first year of life and the occurrence of food allergy. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between family history of allergy, allergic manifestations and dietary patterns during the first year of life in infants with and without food allergy.
Population and methods: We performed a descriptive cross-sectional study in children under 2 years of age (n= 99), sorted in two groups: allergic group (n= 50) and control group (n= 49), matched by socioeconomic status, age and gender. Food allergy was deifned by internationally approved clinical criteria, prick and patch tests, and response to diet. Information on diet, clinical data and history of allergy in the parents were collected. The sample size was estimated for logistic regression (Freeman), and Student X² and Mann-Withney tests were used. The study and consent forms were approved by the Ethics Committee of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos, INTA) and the Universidad de Chile.
Results: The allergic group showed a significantly higher prevalence (p <0.0001) of family history of allergy (84%) than the control group (16%). Diarrhea was the symptom most frequently reported by the mothers of allergic infants during the first year of life. Bottle feeding was introduced earlier in the allergic group than in the control group (3 versus 6 months [p < 0.03]); no differences regarding the start age for supplementary feeding was found. When performing logistic regression, only the family history of allergy was associated with a higher risk of food allergy (OR: 48.2; CI= 14.2-164; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: The early introduction of milk formula could promote the occurrence of food allergy in infants frequently presenting family history of allergy.