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Study links processed food diet to development of allergies in infants

Posted: August 9, 2013 |   Comments

( According to a recently published study, infants who consume fresh fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop allergy problems compared to infants who eat processed baby food.

Researchers estimate that as much as 8 percent of children have a food allergy.

In order to prevent food allergies from developing, some parents are recommended to avoid feeding their children certain foods. Kate Grimshaw, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Southampton in the UK, expressed concern that parents could be reducing their child's nutritional intake without evidence to support the supposed benefits.

As part of the study, Grimshaw and her team of researchers collected food diaries from 1,140 baby's parents.

The parents typically maintained the diet log for the first year of life, during which, 41 children were diagnosed with a food allergy. The researchers compared the allergic babies to 82 similar infants without an allergy. They then scored the babies' diets based on the combination of foods they ate.

They found that babies without food allergies scored higher than babies with allergies. The babies without allergies were more likely to have been on a diet that was rich in healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and homemade foods without much processed foods like pre-made meals and potato chips.

"The analysis showed that the infants who were having more fruits and vegetables and less commercially produced baby foods and also less adult foods were the ones who were less likely to develop an allergy by the time they were two," Grimshaw said.

"It's not that they didn't have commercially-made baby foods, it's just that they did not have them predominantly in their diet," she added.

Research on food allergies is often very difficult due to the large amount of factors that could be involved. Because of this, researchers are still unsure as to why a fresh diet reduces the likelihood of allergies from developing.

Dr. Magnus Wickman, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said that there is no evidence that avoiding allergenic foods, such as nuts, fish and eggs is beneficial in preventing food allergies.

She added, there is very little risk in recommending that parents focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.

"Healthy food has so many good things, and maybe it also can reduce the risk of food allergy in the child," Wickman told Reuters Health.

It has long been common knowledge that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding junk food provides good nutrition and leads to good health. Now, parents have another reason to ensure that their children eat healthy.

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