According to a new study, children predisposed to peanut allergies should regularly consume peanuts at an early age. This can lower the risk of them developing future allergy episodes. The findings were published on Monday Feb. 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
More than 600 infants from the United Kingdom between the ages of 4 to 11 months have participated in this study. All of them had a high risk for peanut allergies considered due to the fact that they had a history of egg allergies or severe eczemas. Both signs are associated with peanut allergies.
The participants were divided into two groups. One would be given 6 grams (0.2 ounces) of snacks containing peanut butter per week while the other group avoided all peanut products. All participants would have to follow this rule until the age of 5.
By the end of the study, about 17 percent of the children who completely avoided eating peanuts developed a peanut allergy while in the other group, only 3 percent developed an allergic reaction. This can be understood as an 81% decline in allergy rate.
The founder of the study, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is also director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that “for a study to show a benefit of this magnitude in the prevention of peanut allergy is without precedent.” He added that the results show that a new approach should be considered in regards to how food allergies can be handled.
Up until now, many doctors recommended parents with children that showed signs of being allergic to various foods to avoid consuming peanuts until they are older than 3. This study, however, shows that this isn’t always necessary.
There are still some questions left unanswered. One of them concerns the possibility that the protection gained during the study would fade away after the children stopped eating peanuts.
In order to obtain more information, a follow-up study is planned for the future. In this research, the children who were part of the group that consumed peanuts would stop eating them for a year.
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