BACKGROUND: Recently, the bacterial diversity of the intestinal flora and the diversity of various environmental factors during infancy have been linked to the development of allergies in childhood. Food is an important environmental exposure, but the role of food diversity in the development of asthma and allergies in childhood is poorly defined.
OBJECTIVE: We studied the associations between food diversity during the first year of life and the development of asthma and allergies by age 5 years.
METHODS: In a Finnish birth cohort we analyzed data on 3142 consecutively born children. We studied food diversity at 3, 4, 6, and 12 months of age. Asthma, wheeze, atopic eczema, and allergic rhinitis were measured by using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire at age 5 years.
RESULTS: By 3 and 4 months of age, food diversity was not associated with any of the allergic end points. By 6 months of age, less food diversity was associated with increased risk of allergic rhinitis but not with the other end points. By 12 months of age, less food diversity was associated with increased risk of any asthma, atopic asthma, wheeze, and allergic rhinitis.
CONCLUSION: Less food diversity during the first year of life might increase the risk of asthma and allergies in childhood. The mechanisms for this association are unclear, but increased dietary antigen exposure might contribute to this link.
- Age Factors
- Infant Food
- Infant, Newborn