– Absolutely fantastic, if it can prevent allergies – NRK Norway – Overview of news from different parts of the country

In Norway, three out of 100 have food allergies. Among the youngest, eight out of 100 have it.

National advice is mainly to fully breastfeed for six months, but the child can get food earlier if they need it.

– But we have thought the opposite. If you start early, then maybe we can train the immune system to tolerate the food, says Karin Lødrup Carlsen.

She is a professor at the University of Oslo, a pediatrician and chief physician at Oslo University Hospital and one of the researchers behind the study.

Karin Lødrup Carlsen, Oslo University Hospital

RESEARCHER: Karin Lødrup Carlsen has followed the research closely.

Photo: Birgitte Vågnes Bakken / NRK

Think they have solid findings

The research is led by researchers from the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital.

The findings were made among 2400 children, who have been followed up at Oslo University Hospital, Østfold Hospital and at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Through tasting in the mouth of common foods such as peanuts, eggs, milk and wheat, children from the age of three months have received this four times a week.

– The background for the study was to dispel a myth that it is wise to postpone the introduction of food, says Carlsen.

– We have thought that, if we are to prevent allergies, in this case food allergies, then there must be something that is simple that everyone can do, and that costs little, she continues.

The results of the study suggest that it can give the best effect to start early and continue with the foods as a natural part of the diet. It also suggests that early introduction of foods is safe, easy and has not affected the frequency of breastfeeding at six months of age.

How sure are you of the result?

– Our findings are solid, and this is actually supported by another previous study also in a general population. Admittedly, they did not find a statistically significant effect. But they had the same tendency, and in the children who had followed the protocol ate enough of the food often enough, they also found a reduced incidence of food allergy.

– Very interesting

Siv-Terese Larson is one of those who has children with food allergies.

She thinks the study seems exciting.

– I think it is very interesting. It is absolutely fantastic, if it can work, because it is quite tiring to live with allergies for both children and parents.

Larson is positive about the method used during the study.

– It is a simple method of prevention. If it’s that easy to avoid allergies, I’m definitely in favor of it.

Will avoid development

Håvard Ove Skjerven, chief physician at the pediatric department for allergies and lung diseases at Oslo University Hospital, says that this research helps to avoid the development of food allergies.

Håvard O. Skjerven

SUPERVISOR: Håvard Ove Skjerven points out that this has been a safe and effective investigation.

Photo: Øystein H. Horgmo, UiO

– In Norway alone with its 60,000 births each year, around 1,000 children will be able to avoid the development of a thousand objectively verifiable food allergies every single year.

He believes that it can potentially have major consequences, if this protective effect applies in society.

– National breastfeeding councils must be re-evaluated

Anna Bistrup from the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association is also very positive about the study.

– This study here, together with studies that have been carried out previously, is now very clear that the national breastfeeding councils must be re-evaluated, says Bistrup.

Anna Bistrup, Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association

NEW ADVICE: Anna Bistrup wants new national advice for breastfeeding and believes the research is revolutionary.

Photo: Leif Rune Løland / NRK

– We now see clearly that introducing tastings of food at an early age has a preventive effect on food allergies, and this is very important to take further.

She believes this should be included in recommendations on infant nutrition, because food allergies are a growing problem.

– We think this is very exciting, would almost use the word revolutionary and very nice for how to start preventing allergies in Norwegian children.

Continues recommendation for breastfeeding

In an e-mail to NRK, Linda Granlund, division director in the Norwegian Directorate of Health, says that they still recommend that infants only receive breast milk and vitamin D supplements for the first six months, as long as the child grows as it should.

– Full breastfeeding protects the child against infections, among other things.

Linda Granlund, Division Director, Norwegian Directorate of Health

DIVISION DIRECTOR: In the autumn, the Norwegian Directorate of Health will consider when it is best to start with solid food.

Photo: Kai Rune Kvitseid

National advice and recommendations are updated when the overall professional basis so requires. Granlund states that in the autumn, the World Health Organization (WHO) will publish a systematic overview of knowledge about when it is best to start with solid food.

– All good research is reviewed and seen in context, both in terms of allergies and other health outcomes. We expect that this study is included in the WHO’s review, she concludes.

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