Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Fall 2017

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Program or Major

Nutrition: Dietetics

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Ruth Reilly

Second Advisor

Sherman Bigornia


Solid food introduction guidelines were recently amended to suggest that earlier introduction of peanuts is associated with a decreased prevalence of peanut allergies in high-risk children. This study aimed to determine whether there is a relationship between timing of introduction to the eight most common food allergens and the development of a food allergy. A total of 177 biological mothers of school-aged New Hampshire children completed the survey, but some were excluded due to answering <50% of the survey or not consenting to participate in the study. This left data on 101 participants, and the number of participants then varied between the various food allergens. Out of the 22 children with a milk allergy, 10 children were introduced to milk when they were less than 12 months old and 12 children were introduced at or after one year old. Fifty-nine percent of those introduced before 12 months of age developed a milk allergy, while only 17% of those introduced at or past 12 months developed a milk allergy (p = 0.00). Out of the 55 participants that developed a peanut/tree nut allergy, 12 were introduced to peanuts/tree nuts before the age of 12 months, and 43 introduced after. This means that 63% of those introduced before a year developed an allergy, while only 33% introduced later developed an allergy (p = 0.01). Although not significant, the results for egg, wheat, and peanut also demonstrated that earlier introduction may be associated with an increased risk of an allergy to that food. When only one child per family was considered, to exclude genetic confounders, the only significant value was for a milk allergy, in which 64% of children introduced before 12 months developed a food allergy, while only 18% of children introduced at or after 12 months developed one (p = 0.00). Results were similar even after the exclusion of child one and two. The results of this study concur with the recommendation of introducing milk after one year, but do not support earlier introduction to other food allergens in the general population.