The EAT study are looking for mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding and who are intending to exclusively breastfeed their baby for 6 months.
Participant Rachel says they need to see you before your baby is 3 months old then you are randomly assigned a group to either introduce food early, at 3 months, or standard, at 6 months. She said “It’s an easy study to be a part of. I went to St Thomas’ in London for DS to be assessed (he was weighed and measured and they took some blood) now every month I do a food frequency questionnaire online. At 6 months I did a 5 day food diary which was challenging cos I am doing baby led weaning!!”
They say that if you weren’t comfortable with early weaning you shouldn’t be involved.
The team behind EAT declare personal interests as the two principal investigators lecture for companies include Nestle and other baby food companies but the research itself appears to be funded by the following:
Immune Tolerance Network, National Peanut Board, Food Standards Agency, Food Allergy Initiative, Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, Medical Research Council.Food Standards Agency, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust
For more information see http://www.eatstudy.co.uk/ and you can hear a discussion about this study, allergies and breastfeeding on Womans Hour 8th September 2011 at about 26 minutes in. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b014629r
Five reasons to take part in the EAT Study!
- We hope that we may prevent children who take part in the study from developing food allergies and possibly other allergic diseases, such as asthma, eczema and hay fever.
- It is interesting! This website is full of information about the science behind why we are undertaking the study and what is involved if you choose to take part.
- You get three trips to our state of the art allergy unit in the heart of London in St Thomas’ Hospital.
- During these trips we undertake a thorough review of your child’s health and development.
- The study team includes two paediatricians, a consultant dermatologist, dietitians, nurses and study administrators dedicated to looking after your child!
The EAT Study aims to find out how to best prevent food allergy in young children.
In the United Kingdom (UK) approximately 6% of children will develop food allergies. These can vary in severity, from mild to life-threatening.The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, endorsed by the UK Government, recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. The UK Government infant feeding information leaflet for parents advises around 6 months exclusive breastfeeding. It also states that if a mother decides to introduce complementary foods before six months there are some foods that should be avoided as they may cause allergies including: “wheat-based foods and other foods containing gluten (e.g. bread, rusks, some breakfast cereals), eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts (and) seeds.”
There is little evidence that this prevents allergy. Research studies that set out to find out if avoiding early introduction of allergenic foods reduces food allergy show conflicting results. Moreover, there is some emerging evidence that suggests that the early introduction of allergenic foods may actually protect against the development of food allergy, but this has yet to be confirmed. The theory is that repeated exposure of the immune system at an early age to an allergenic food via the oral route (in other words, eating the food), teaches the body to tolerate the food so it will not cause an allergy when the child grows older.
Since the 1970s allergy has increased significantly in the UK: a study in South Wales showed that asthma rates doubled and eczema rates tripled between 1973 and 1988. Two successive studies from the Isle of Wight undertaken in 1989 and then 1994-1996 suggested that peanut allergy had doubled. These increases have coincided with a two-thirds reduction in early introduction of complementary foods. Therefore, it is possible that later introduction could promote food allergies. So the question is – is early introduction an effective approach or not to prevent food allergy in young children?
With your help, the EAT Study aims to provide an answer to this question in order to help decrease the enormous burden that food allergy has on our children.