Diet of lactating women and allergic reactions in their infants

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To evaluate whether the diet of lactating women modulates the development of allergic disease in their children.

Recent findings

Although maternal avoidance of common food protein allergens was previously recommended for lactating women with infants predisposed to allergic disease, recent expert reviews have concluded that there is no strong evidence to support this position. A recent well-controlled study, using egg as an allergen, confirmed that the appearance of food proteins in human milk is common, but this can be highly variable between women even after consuming the same challenge (dose) food. On the other hand, preliminary data suggest that increasing dietary n−3 fatty acids may offer protection from the development of some childhood allergies. A recent animal study offers mechanistic support, indicating that perinatal diets high in n−3 fatty acids can induce oral neonatal tolerance more effectively compared with diets predominating in n−6 fatty acids.

Summary

Current data do not support the use of maternal antigen-avoidance diets during lactation as a strategy to prevent childhood allergies. Controlled trials are required to evaluate the efficacy of maternal dietary n−3 fatty acid interventions in preventing allergic disease in at-risk infants.

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