The Latest Findings On Preventing Peanut Allergy

Sometimes nature surprises us by favoring health measures that earlier seemed counter-intuitive.

Such was the case last year when a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that babies at high-risk* for peanut allergy were better off being exposed to peanut than avoiding it. This study turned the assumed wisdom - protecting young allergy susceptible children from peanuts - on its head.

Why Did You Visit This Website?
I have a peanut and/or nut allergy
100%
A family member has a peanut and/or nut allergy
0%
I might have a peanut and/or nut allergy
0%
I am just looking for information
0%
Total votes: 3

As you might recall, the research showed when at risk babies were fed a peanut-butter “mush” - starting at ages 4 to 11 months - they were about 80 percent less likely to have a peanut allergy at age 5. This was in comparison with infants not exposed to peanut protein.

Follow-up Study Reveals More

Now, results from a year long follow-up study with the same children supports the benefit of early peanut exposure. The young participants, between ages 5 and 6 during the follow-up, maintained their tolerance for peanuts even after 12 months of peanut abstinence.

“Among children at high risk for allergy...a 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with an increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy,” reported the researchers. This suggests that the benefit of early peanut exposure is permanent.

Though preliminary guidelines for the application of this research have already been created, this does not give parents a green light to feed their infants peanut butter. The guidelines state:

  • ”...that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of ‘‘high-risk’’ infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age) in countries where peanut allergy is prevalent...”
  • ”Infants with early-onset atopic disease, such as severe eczema, or egg allergy...might benefit from evaluation by an allergist or physician trained in management of allergic diseases...”

There is still more that doctors need to understand about early exposure, such as exactly how much peanut babies need to consume, and for which other foods early exposure will work. The current application guidelines will be tweaked as more research data are collected.

Tips for Parents

Though parents may naturally be eager to benefit from the early exposure research, pediatrician Dr. Claire McCarthy adds her own cautionary advice to the guideline recommendations:

  • Do not give problem foods to babies if there are known or suspected food allergies. If the child has eczema, bloody stools, experiences vomiting, rashes, is fussy after eating anything, or has a parent or sibling with food allergies, consult with a doctor before putting the child on solid foods.
  • Never give infants or toddlers actual peanuts, or any type of solid food they might choke on. There are a variety of safe ways to expose babies to solid food proteins; a doctor or allergist can recommend how.

While it’s unfortunate medical science had peanut allergy prevention backwards when recommending delayed exposure, we can be grateful going forward knowing the recent discoveries may soon reduce peanut allergy incidence. However, early exposure does not eliminate peanut allergy, so parental caution, and working with doctors or allergists, is essential.

Sources: NEJM; NPR; JACI Online; Harvard Health
Photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

*Children at high risk for food allergy have a family history of allergy and/or have conditions such as eczema or asthma.

Community

Latest Post by blprestangen Mon, 09/16/2019 - 1:06pm
Comments: 12
Latest Post by mom2two Mon, 09/16/2019 - 1:03pm
Comments: 18
Latest Post by Kathryn Mon, 09/16/2019 - 1:02pm
Comments: 7

More Articles

Do you think you may have a food intolerance? Many people make it to adulthood without realizing they have a food intolerance because they have...

With only a casual understanding of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) some people assume that simply feeding children a bit of their problem food, in order...

Babies usually show the same peanut allergy symptoms as older children as adults. It is estimated that up...

If you have a mold allergy, you’ve likely been advised to remove all sources of mold from in and around your house. But it doesn’t stop there....

You may be surprised to find that peanut butter is used to make many products. Someone who has a peanut...

More Articles

More Articles

What if, while attending a summertime family picnic, a food-allergic child shows signs of anaphylaxis. In a panicked instant, adults realize the...

Are the signs of nut allergies different than those of peanut allergies? Many people who have an allergic reaction after eating a peanut butter...

There is much buzz in the news about the potential health benefits of fecal transplants, and some of that benefit may extend to people with food...

If you or your child has a food allergy, a doctor or allergist might have talked to you about “co-factors.” Allergy co-factors are substances,...

An epinephrine auto-injector provides an emergency dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. Those who have...

Oyster sauce is used for a variety of recipes, including as an earthy dressing for noodles, vegetables, and stir-fries, or as a base for other...

The high incidence of food allergy in children, and the reason many kids eventually...

Parents of children with food allergies often share tips about safe foods, allergy-friendly restaurants, and other experiences and challenges of...

Because food allergies are so common among children today, a great idea for sharing information with other classmates is to incorporate the topic...

When a child is diagnosed with peanut allergy, the implications ripple past the parents to rattle the rest of us - older siblings, grandparents,...

Your best defense against anaphylactic shock is to know what you’re up against. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction....

Inhalers Sometimes Contain Soy

Many people use inhalers to take the drug albuterol to help their asthma or allergies, and those with COPD...

Some people with shellfish allergy have concerns about consuming sea salt that might be contaminated with traces of shellfish. Though there are...

Nearly 25 percent of children with a peanut allergy will outgrow it. However, there is a small risk...