A recent study suggests that feeding infants with small amounts of mashed-up peanuts can reduce the risk of developing peanut allergies.
The researchers from King’s College in London discovered that early exposure to peanuts can lower the risk of peanut allergies until the age of five even if children stopped consuming peanuts for a year. The findings of this study were follow-ups of a 2015 study known asLearning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial. This new study, called LEAP-ON, was led by Dr. Gideon Lack from King’s College. Both studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Last year’s study included 640 at-risk British infants who were divided into two groups; one group was fed foods with peanuts and the other was told to avoid peanuts until they turned five. The children were given an allergy test after they turned five.
Results suggest that children who consumed peanut snacks within the first 11 months of life will not develop allergy until the age of five even if they stopped eating peanuts for a year. This method is a kind of protection strategy that yields persistent and long-term results in children over food allergies. According to researchers, only 1.9% of children in the group who were fed peanuts have shown allergies, compared to 13.7% on the avoidance group.
On the other hand, the latest study observed 1,300 breast-fed British infants randomly assigned to get several types of allergy-inducing foods or just breast milk. Unlike last year, the team followed the children for another year. The strongest results were with peanut-based food and eggs; however, about 60 per cent of the early eaters didn’t stick to the program because of reasons such as immature swallowing skills, some doctors don’t recommend starting solid foods until around four months of age, and parents stopped giving solid foods because they noticed allergy-like symptoms which may have included false alarms.
The researchers concluded that early introduction of peanuts “significantly decreased” the frequency of development of the said allergy among the children at high risk. This supports the results of the previous study which claims that consuming peanut products can help prevent peanut allergies.
Furthermore, the latest study suggests that the early strategy can be extended to eggs which also cause allergies in young children. It found that allergies to peanuts and eggs were less common in young children who started eating those foods at three months of age than in kids who as infants received only breast milk.
“The LEAP-ON findings exceeded our expectations and demonstrated that the early consumption of peanuts provided stable and sustained protection against the development of peanut allergy in children at greatest risk for this allergy,” said Lack. “This protective effect occurred irrespective of whether the children completely avoided peanut for one year or continued to eat it sporadically.”