Up to eight percent of children have a food allergy, but recent research implies that babies who eat fresh foods and fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop food allergies than babies who ate more processed or packaged foods.
According to Reuters, the researchers had the parents of 1,140 babies keep food diaries for the first year of life. The researchers then compared the diets of the babies who had developed food allergies with those of some similar babies who had not, and scored them according to healthfulness.
The babies who had not developed allergies had higher-scoring diets that had mostly healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, poultry, and fish, and only a little bit of packaged foods, premade meals, and bacon.
"The analysis showed that the infants who were having more fruits and vegetables and less commercially producedand also less adult foods were the ones who were less likely to develop an allergy by the time they were two," said lead researcher Kate Grimshaw. "It's not that they didn't have commercially-made baby foods, it's just that they did not have them predominantly in their diet."
The study does not prove that fresher foods prevent allergies or that packaged foods cause them, as allergy studies are notoriously difficult and there could be many other factors at play regarding whether or not a child will develop an allergy. It does indicate that diet could play a role in allergy development, however.
"We know that there are nutrients in the diet that educate the immune system," Grimshaw said. "And one could argue that if they're not there in adequate amounts when the child's immune system is developing, that may be one way that this is working."
Check out some of our best baby food recipes for some fresh baby food ideas.