Using mixed feeding modes during a baby’s first six months of life could raise the risk of food allergies, research suggests. Results from a recent cohort study found that infants who were fed through a combination of breast feeding, pumped breast milk, and formula were at higher risk of food allergies than were those who were breastfed only.

“Recent studies have suggested a protective effect of breastfeeding on food allergies, but they don’t differentiate between the complex patterns involved when a mother is feeding a child,” the study’s lead author said.

Food allergy risks increase by fifty percent.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, found that mixed feeding increased symptoms of food allergy by about fifty percent. Too much exposure to antigens is the likely reason, the study’s authors assume.

The research group studied pregnant women from the Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration’s Infant Feeding Practice Study 2. This study included survey questions to mothers about infant feeding practices for the child’s first year. A follow-up questionnaire when the child reached six years of age completed the study.

The study did find, however, that the mixed feeding did not have a measurable effect on diagnosed allergies, only on food allergy symptomology. It increased apparent risks of showing signs of food allergy, but not necessarily the number of diagnosis. The authors say that the study had limitations in that regard.

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