Scientists: the best way to avoid peanut allergies, eat peanuts

When it comes to peanuts and allergies, researchers are now rethinking their complete avoidance advice in exchange for early introduction.

In recent studies, scientists have discovered that babies who are at risk for developing peanut allergies may be able to avoid it if they’re fed peanuts on a regular basis during their first 11 months.

The common and often deadly childhood allergy was effectively decreased by 80 percent in high-risk children with a prevalence of peanut allergies. The children who frequently ate peanuts during infanthood showed a higher reduction in preventing the allergy compared to children who avoided peanuts altogether.

Gideon Lack, who led the study at King’s College London, said, “This is an important clinical development and contravenes previous guidelines. New guidelines may be needed to reduce the rate of peanut allergies in our children.”

Lack’s study included 640 high-risk children between 4 months and 11 months of age. Half the children ate foods at least three times a week that contained peanuts. The other half of the children completely avoided peanuts until they were five years old.

Lack’s results showed that less than 1 percent of the peanut-eating children developed a peanut allergy while 17.3 percent of the peanut-avoiding children had become allergic to peanuts by the end of the study.

This is particularly important since the rate of food allergies in children continues to climb, affecting between 1 and 3 percent in the US, Australia and Western Europe. About 1 percent of the population in these regions experience serious allergic reactions to peanuts, including 400,000 school children.

Reactions to peanuts range from low blood pressure and difficulty in breathing to vomiting, severe inflammation, pain and sometimes death. Studies show that peanut allergies tend to develop early in life and those affected rarely outgrow it.

“Deliberate avoidance of peanut in the first year of life is consequently brought into question as a strategy to prevent allergy,” Lack’s team wrote in the study.

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