A Guide to the EAT Study on Food Allergy Prevention|ReadySetFood – Ready, Set, Food!
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  • A Parent's Guide to the EAT Study on Food Allergy Prevention

    By: Jessica Huhn

A Parent's Guide to the EAT Study on Food Allergy Prevention

By: Jessica Huhn

A Parent's Guide to the EAT Study on Food Allergy Prevention

By: Jessica Huhn

The EAT study shows that feeding babies allergy-causing foods early and often helps reduce their food allergy risk. We cover everything parents need to know about the EAT study, including what the findings mean for your family.

Learn about the other landmark clinical trials on food allergy prevention: Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) Study and Prevention of Egg Allergy with Tiny Amount Intake (PETIT) Study

Thanks to the landmark EAT study, we now know that introducing babies to peanut, egg, and milk early and often significantly reduces their risk of developing allergies to these foods. But how was the EAT study conducted, what exactly did it reveal, and what do the findings mean for your family? In this article, we’ll break down everything parents need to know about the EAT study.

The EAT Study: Overview

In the EAT study, babies either ate six common allergy-causing foods consistently for 3-6 months, or avoided these foods completely for at least 6 months. 

  • The six foods were milk, egg, peanut, sesame, whitefish, and wheat.
  • The babies started the study at 3 months of age
  • They were all at lower risk for food allergies.

The aim was to see if eating the foods early and often reduced children's risk of developing allergies to these foods.

Learn more about the landmark EAT study from this 2 minute video from the New England Journal of Medicine: 

Here's our complete guide to the EAT study for parents.

What was the purpose of the EAT study? To see if introducing allergy-causing foods early and often would reduce babies’ risk of developing allergies to these foods.
Who took part in the EAT study?
  • 1303 infants and their mothers in the UK
  • All starting at 3 months of age
  • All from the general population, so they were at lower risk for food allergies
  • All exclusively breastfed
Which foods were introduced in the study? Peanut, cooked egg, cow's milk, sesame, whitefish, and wheat
How was the EAT study conducted?
  • The babies were randomly assigned to two groups
    • One group consumed the six foods starting at 3 months of age
    • The other group avoided these foods for at least six months 
  • All mothers continued to breastfeed their babies for 6+ months 
  • Children were checked at 1 year and 3 years of age to see if they developed food allergies
How much of the allergy-causing foods did babies in the "consume" group eat? How often?
  • At 3 months of age, parents started introducing the six foods.
    • 2 new foods per week
    • Milk was always the first
    • Peanut, egg, whitefish and sesame were introduced in random order
    • Wheat was always the last
  • The target amount of each food protein to introduce was 4g total per week. 
  • On average, once babies reached 5 months of age, they were eating each food 2-3 times per week. 
  • Babies needed to keep eating the foods consistently for at least 3-6 months of age. 
  • Parents kept a diary to track how much of each food they fed their baby, and how often.
Were all parents able to introduce the target amounts of each food, consistently for at least 3 months? No. 57% of parents weren't able to follow the dosing requirements.
How did researchers check to see if babies developed allergies?
  • At 1 year and 3 years of age, babies had  clinical exams
    • They were given a skin prick test for each of the six foods.
    • If they had a positive skin prick test to a food, or previously had symptoms of a food allergy, they completed a food challenge. 
    • In the food challenge, they were slowly introduced to the food to see if they developed allergy symptoms.
  • In between, parents also completed a questionnaire
    • Every month until their baby was 1 year old
    • Then every 3 months until their child was 3 years old
    •  They shared whether their baby had any symptoms of food allergies
What did the results show?
  • Introducing foods like peanut, egg, and milk early and often reduces babies' food allergy risk by 67%
  • Introducing peanut and egg early is especially effective
  • Delaying introduction of common allergy-causing foods can increase food allergy risk

 

The EAT Study Results

The EAT study's results show that: 

  • Feeding babies common allergy-causing foods early and consistently, starting around 3 months of age, reduces their risk of developing allergies to these foods. 
  • Delaying introduction of these foods increases babies' food allergy risk.

7.3% of the babies who avoided the six allergy-causing foods (milk, egg, peanut, whitefish, sesame, wheat) developed an allergy to one or more of these foods by 12 months of age.

Meanwhile, only 2.4% of the babies who consumed these foods early and often, between 3 and 6 months of age, developed an allergy to one or more of these foods by 12 months of age.

This represents a 67.12% difference.

Introducing peanut and egg early and often had especially significant results. 

Peanut

  •  2.5% of the babies in the "avoid" group developed a peanut allergy. 
  • But none of the babies who consistently ate the full study dose of peanut developed a peanut allergy.

Egg

  • 5.5% of the babies in the "avoid" group developed an egg allergy.
  • But only 1.4% of the babies who consistently ate the full study dose of egg developed an egg allergy (a 74.55% difference).

Life After the EAT Study: Takeaways for Families

The EAT study shows that early, consistent introduction of peanut, egg, and milk  can help protect your baby from developing a food allergy. Here’s what parents should take away from the EAT study:

  • Introduce common allergy-causing foods like peanut, egg, and milk to your baby early and often.
    • This reduces your baby's risk of allergies to these foods by up to 67%.
  • Consistently introducing these foods, at least 2-3 times per week for 3-6+ months, is just as important as starting early.
  • Delaying the introduction of these foods increases your baby's food allergy risk.
  • If you're breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed while you introduce baby to these foods.

However, the study also shows that consistent introduction can be difficult for families, especially at such an early age. 

  • 42% of the parents in the study weren't able to follow the full protocol for introducing the foods to their babies. 
  • Many had trouble getting their babies to eat the foods consistently. 
  • Babies whose parents didn't follow the protocol didn't experience the same prevention benefits as babies who consistently ate the foods. So, don't give up on early, consistent introduction.

Ready, Set, Food! Makes Early Introduction Easy

Ready, Set, Food! makes it easy to follow the EAT study protocols. Our gentle, guided system safely introduces peanut, egg, and milk (the three most common allergy-causing foods in children) to your baby early and often. It’s the only early allergen introduction system that follows the exact doses recommended by landmark clinical studies (EAT, LEAP, PETIT).


Our pre-measured packets eliminate guesswork and time-consuming preparation, so you can feel confident that your baby is getting the right amounts of egg, milk, and peanut for prevention. Ready, Set, Food! easily mixes with breastmilk or formula. So, you can start introducing peanut, egg, and milk as early as 4 months, even before your baby is ready for solids, and even if your baby is a picky eater. Learn why Ready, Set, Food! works for every family’s routine, and why it’s recommended by 1000+ pediatricians.

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.

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