Systematic review of scientific published literature on infant feeding and development of atopic and autoimmune disease

Last updated:
30 July 2013
This systematic literature review will identify and evaluate relevant published evidence that examines the relationship between early dietary exposures and the risk of developing atopic (including food allergy) and autoimmune disease. This evidence will inform the development of UK Government advice on complementary and young child feeding.
Study duration: March 2013 to January 2015
Project code: FS305005
Contractor: Imperial College London

Background

The Committee of Toxicology (COT, an FSA expert Committee) have been asked by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN, a Public Health England (PHE) expert Committee) to provide advice on the risks arising from the infant diet that are related to the development of atopic and autoimmune disease.

Atopic diseases such as food allergy and eczema occur when the body’s immune system starts to over produce the antibody IgE in response to harmless environmental substances it would normally ignore. Autoimmune diseases such as type I diabetes occur when the body’s immune system starts to produce antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissues and organs.

The outputs from the systematic literature review will be used by COT to make recommendations to SACN. These recommendations will be used (in part) by the UK Government to consider the need for updating or renewing consumer advice on the issue of diet and atopic/autoimmune disease risk, ensuring that this advice is based on the most robust and up-to-date scientific evidence.

Research Approach

The key objective of this work is to undertake a review of the published literature to establish the risks associated with the development of atopic and autoimmune disease. This will be achieved by undertaking three separate systematic reviews of the published evidence:

  • systematic review 1 will synthesise the evidence concerning infant milk feeding, including whether the duration of exclusive/predominant breastfeeding during the first year of life, total duration of breast feeding (up to 2 years of age) and the timing of introduction of non-milk feeds (i.e. not breast or formula milk) during the first year of life influences a child’s future risk of developing atopic disease or autoimmune disease
  • systematic review 2 will explore the evidence concerning the timing of introduction of allergenic foods (i.e. cow’s milk, hen’s egg, wheat, peanut, tree nut, fish and soya) into the infant diet during the first year of life and how this influence's a child’s future risk of developing atopic disease or autoimmune disease. It will also explore whether the effects vary according to the duration of exclusive/predominant or any breastfeeding
  • systematic review 3 will explore the evidence concerning maternal and infant diet, including whether early exposure to specific dietary patterns, food groups or nutrients during the first year of life influences a child’s future risk of developing atopic disease or autoimmune disease. It will also explore whether maternal exposure to specific dietary patterns, food groups or nutrients during pregnancy and lactation influence’s a child’s future risk of developing atopic disease or autoimmune disease

Results

Additional Info

Dissemination

Published Papers