Different Measures of Diet Diversity During Infancy and the Association with Childhood Food Allergy in a UK Birth Cohort Study

Carina Venter, Kate Maslin, John W. Holloway, Lori J. Silveira, David M. Fleischer, Tara Dean, Syed Hasan Arshad

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Background: Diet diversity (DD) during infancy may prevent food allergies (FA), possibly by exposing the gastrointestinal microbiota to diverse foods and nutrients. Objective: To investigate the association between 4 different measures of DD during infancy and development of FA over the first decade of life. Methods: A birth cohort born between 2001 and 2002 were followed prospectively, providing information on sociodemographic, environmental, and dietary exposures. Information on age of introduction of a range of foods and food allergens was collected during infancy. Children were assessed for FA at 1, 2, 3, and 10 years. DD was defined using 4 measures in the first year of life: the World Health Organization definition of minimum DD at 6 months, as food diversity (FD) and fruit and vegetable diversity (FVD) at 3, 6, and 9 months, and as food allergen diversity (FAD) at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Results: A total of 969 pregnant women were recruited at 12-week gestation. A total of 900, 858, 891, and 827 offspring were assessed at 1, 2, 3, and 10 years. Univariate analysis showed that World Health Organization DD (P =.0047), FD (P =.0009), FAD (P =.0048), and FVD (P =.0174) at 6 months and FD (P =.0392), FAD (P =.0233), and FVD (.0163) at 9 months significantly reduced the odds of FA over the first decade of life. DD measures at 3 months were not associated with FA, but only 33% of the cohort had solid foods introduced by this age. Conclusion: Increased infant DD, as measured by 4 different methods, decreased the likelihood of developing FA.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020



  • Dietary variety
  • dietary diversity
  • eczema
  • weaning
  • complementary feeding
  • infant feeding
  • food allergy prevention

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