The percentage of people with asthma has increased steadily
over the last half of the 20th century: a recent study showed
that 35% of 12- to 14-year-olds in the United Kingdom experience
annually. This increase may be linked to environmental factors,
including eating certain foods. Eating dietary cereals, such
as such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley, can cause an allergic
reaction to grass pollen. Providing cereals in the diets of
infants, whose digestive systems are not fully mature, may
increase the likelihood of grass pollen allergies later in
Between 1989 and 1999, the authors of a study in the journal
Clinical & Experimental Allergy studied more than 16,000
patients admitted to the allergy unit at their clinic in Spain.
Of these, 250 patients with grass-pollen asthma and 250 asthma-free
individuals were selected for the study. Patients or their
parents were asked about the patients’ diets as infants, including
how long they were breast-fed only.
People who were fed cereals in the first three months after
birth were six times more likely to later suffer from grass-pollen
asthma than their peers who were breast-fed only. Regarding
allergy sufferers, 84% of those with an early cereal diet
were allergic to grass pollen, compared to only 15% of those
who were breast-fed.
Don’t feed your infant cereal-based foods for at least the
first year of life. Breast milk is the best nutritional source
for young infants, especially during their first six months
of life. Breastfeeding provides a natural and safe food source
for your baby, and other studies have shown that it reduces
a child’s risk for conditions like heart disease, digestive
problems, developmental problems, and infections.
Armentia A, Bañuelos C, Arranz ML, et al. Early introduction
of cereals into children’s diets as a risk-factor for grass
pollen asthma. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 2001:31(8),