Health, Zoomer Report
It’s a complete reversal in the thinking about peanut allergies. The advice used to be to avoid feeding peanuts to babies. Now a new study suggests that many, if not most peanut allergies can be prevented by feeding young children small amounts of food containing peanuts beginning in infancy. In the U.S. the number of children allergic to peanuts, has more than quadrupled since 1997 for reasons that are not entirely understood. The situation is much the same in other Western countries including Canada. For some people, even traces of peanuts can be life-threatening.
An editorial published in The New England Journal of Medicine along with the study, called the results “so compelling” and the rise of peanut allergies “so alarming” that guidelines for how to feed infants at risk of peanut allergies should be revised soon.
In the London-based study, infants 4 to 11 months old who were deemed at high risk of developing a peanut allergy were randomly assigned either to be regularly fed food that contained peanuts or to be denied such food. These feeding patterns continued until the children were 5 years old. Those who consumed the foods that had peanuts in them were far less likely to be allergic to peanuts when they turned 5.
Bottom line: The researchers say this work “clearly indicates that the early introduction of peanuts dramatically decreases the risk of developing a peanut allergy.