Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Early Introduction of Solid Foods to Infants and the Development of Allergic Disease

The evidence that introducing solids to infants before three to four months (early solid feeding) increases risk of allergic disease was systematically reviewed in the current study. MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, and the Drugs and Pharmacology section of EMBASE were searched using “infant,” “food,” and “allergy” as key words. The total number of articles identified was 2,719; only 13 met inclusion criteria.

Key Findings:

  • Of nine cohort studies that investigated the association between early solid feeding and eczema, a positive relationship was found in five studies and no relationship was seen in four of the studies.
  • Six cohort studies and one case-control study focused on the relationship between early solid feeding and asthma and/or wheezing. There was no significant relationship found in three of the cohort studies that focused on asthma or the three cohort studies that examined wheezing.
  • One cohort study found a positive relationship between early solid feeding and wheezing. The case-control study did show a positive relationship between early solid feeding and asthma.
  • An association between pollen allergy and early solid feeding was observed in a cohort study that involved children with an atopic family history.
  • Overall, there is not consistent or sufficient evidence that early solid feeding is related to an increase in allergic disease. The most consistent relationship between early solid feeding and allergic reaction was found with eczema.