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Study Suggests Counterintuitive Solution To Curbing Peanut Allergies
- Updated: February 25, 2015
A recently conducted study has found that feeding peanut products to infants may prevent many peanut allergies from emerging. The study’s results, published along with an editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, showed that “the early introduction of peanut dramatically decreases the risk of development of peanut allergy.” The results of the study were also presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Houston on Monday.
The study followed infants 4 to 11 months old in London who were deemed at high risk of developing a peanut allergy. The infants participating in the study were randomly assigned to either be fed food that contained peanuts regularly or to be denied those types of food. After following the children until the age of five, the study found that the children who consumed the foods that had peanuts in them were far less likely to be allergic to peanuts when they reached the age of five.
It is estimated that roughly 2 percent of American children are allergic to peanuts. Some peanut allergies can be life threatening, leading to hospitalizations and expensive medical treatments. The rates of diagnosed peanut allergies has more than quadrupled since 1997. The reason for the increase in the number of people suffering from peanut allergies is currently unknown.
One of the most common questions asked by parents when introducing solid foods to their children is whether they should feed their child peanuts and other foods associated with allergies. Conventional wisdom regarding peanut allergies has led many parents to avoid feeding their young children peanut products in the hopes of avoiding severe allergic reactions.
Guidelines released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2000 recommended that children at risk of developing allergies should not consume peanuts until they were at least 3 years old. In 2008, those guidelines were revised to reflect that there was no conclusive evidence that food avoidance in infancy resulted in a lesser risk of certain food allergies. The editorial suggested that the guidelines for how to feed infants at risk of peanut allergies should be revised again to reflect the new findings