A new study claims exposing children to peanuts at a young age could greatly reduce their chances of having a peanut allergy later in life.
The study looked at 600 infants who were at a high risk for having a peanut allergy, between the ages of 4 and 11 months old. Some parents were instructed to give their child no peanut products whatsoever, while others were told to feed their child at least 6 grams of peanut protein per week.
The researchers found that feeding peanut protein to a child well before their first birthday reduces their chance of having a peanut allergy by 81 percent.
"Prior to 2008, clinical practice guidelines recommended avoidance of potentially allergenic foods in the diets of young children at heightened risk for development of food allergies," said Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation. "While recent studies showed no benefit from allergen avoidance, the LEAP study is the first to show that early introduction of dietary peanut is actually beneficial and identifies an effective approach to manage a serious public health problem."
The doctors recommend doing a skin test of the child before introducing peanut products. If the skin test is negative, they recommend the child should be fed peanut products. If it is positive, they say parents can still go through the process under the supervision of a pediatrician.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.