Increased food diversity in the first year of life is inversely associated with allergic diseases

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Apr;133(4):1056-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.12.1044. Epub 2014 Feb 6.


Background: The role of dietary factors in the development of allergies is a topic of debate, especially the potential associations between infant feeding practices and allergic diseases. Previously, we reported that increased food diversity introduced during the first year of life reduced the risk of atopic dermatitis.

Objective: In this study we investigated the association between the introduction of food during the first year of life and the development of asthma, allergic rhinitis, food allergy, or atopic sensitization, taking precautions to address reverse causality. We further analyzed the association between food diversity and gene expression of T-cell markers and of Cε germline transcript, reflecting antibody isotype switching to IgE, measured at 6 years of age.

Methods: Eight hundred fifty-six children who participated in a birth cohort study, Protection Against Allergy Study in Rural Environments/EFRAIM, were included. Feeding practices were reported by parents in monthly diaries during the first year of life. Data on environmental factors and allergic diseases were collected from questionnaires administered from birth up to 6 years of age.

Results: An increased diversity of complementary food introduced in the first year of life was inversely associated with asthma with a dose-response effect (adjusted odds ratio with each additional food item introduced, 0.74 [95% CI, 0.61-0.89]). A similar effect was observed for food allergy and food sensitization. Furthermore, increased food diversity was significantly associated with an increased expression of forkhead box protein 3 and a decreased expression of Cε germline transcript.

Conclusion: An increased diversity of food within the first year of life might have a protective effect on asthma, food allergy, and food sensitization and is associated with increased expression of a marker for regulatory T cells.

Keywords: Asthma; children; food allergy and sensitization; food diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Immunoglobulin Class Switching
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Immunoglobulin E