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Giving Peanuts to Young Children May Avoid Allergies, Study Shows

By HERWriter
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Giving Young Children Peanuts May Avoid Allergies, Study Shows Rob/Fotolia

Peanut allergies have doubled over the last 10 years in Western countries. They are also becoming more evident in Africa and Asia, according to a 2015 Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study performed by pediatric allergists from the United Kingdom.

Since allergies often begin in childhood, young children who seem most susceptible are often advised by pediatricians to avoid exposure to any peanuts.

However this 2015 study, as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that avoiding exposure to peanuts might not be the best thing.

The study gathered 640 infants ages 4 to 11 months old who had severe eczema, egg allergy or both. Out of this initial group, 530 were selected who did not show any type of positive skin test reaction to peanuts.

These 530 infants were randomly divided. They were either put into a group that avoided peanuts, or into a group that would be exposed to peanuts for the next 60 months. Then they were retested.

By 5 years of age, the rate of allergies to a peanut exposure in the avoid group was about 17 percent. In the exposed group, the rate was only 3 percent.

That means that the avoid group developed peanut allergies almost six times as often as the exposed group.

Interestingly, the 98 infants who did not make it to the larger test group due to showing mild skin reactions, were also examined at five years of age. Some of those kids continued to avoid peanuts while others had consumed them.

In the mild reaction/avoid group, 35 percent developed peanut allergies while only 11 percent of the exposed group developed peanut allergies. So here the rate was still high. Peanut allergies occurred about three times as often in those who avoided peanuts.

Next in a follow-up study published in April 2016, children from the larger study group were told not to consume peanuts for the next 12 months.

1) Avoiding Peanuts to Avoid an Allergy Is a Bad Strategy for Most. New York Times.com. Retrieved May 8, 2016.

2) Du Toit, M.B George et al. Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy. N Engl J Med 2015; 372:803-813February 26, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1414850.

3) Du Toit, M.B George et al. Effect of Avoidance on Peanut Allergy after Early Peanut Consumption. N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1435-1443April 14, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514209.

4) EDITORIAL: Preventing Peanut Allergy through Early Consumption — Ready for Prime Time? Rebecca S. Gruchalla, M.D., Ph.D., and Hugh A. Sampson, M.D. N Engl J Med 2015; 372:875-877February 26, 2015DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1500186.  

5) Peanuts for baby: A way to avoid peanut allergy? Student Science.org.  Retrieved May 8, 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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