Study Finds that Feeding Babies Peanuts Can Prevent Allergies
Have you ever heard about people who injected themselves with small amounts of snake poison in order to develop immunity to it? With the right amounts, it can be done. Well, according to scientists from Chicago, feeding babies with allergy inducing foods, including peanuts, can actually protect them from becoming allergic to them, and does not necessarily cause allergies.
One study which is a follow-up to landmark research published last year, found that this early method of prevention can lead to long-term results in children who would otherwise be at risk for food allergies. The study found that the protection against the allergy lasted at least through the age of five, and even when the children involved in the study didn’t eat it for a year, the protective effects remained strong.
A more recent study found that the same strategy can work with other foods that cause allergies in young children, such as eggs.The researchers discovered that allergies to both peanuts and eggs were less common among children who started eating these foods when they were around three months old, than among children who received only breast milk at that time.
Both studies were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the studies were presented at a medical meeting in Los Angeles. The findings of both studies are considered very significant, especially as there are many children out there suffering from food allergies that can turn out to be deadly if a child eats the food he or she is allergic to. Around two percent of all children in the United States have peanut allergies, while in many countries around eight percent of children under the age of two have some sort of a food allergy. The discovery made by the mentioned studies could help decrease the number of allergic children, and help people all around the world live a healthier and more carefree life.
The last year’s study was the first one which used this kind of approach to preventing food allergies, and according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases it was also the first one to show that introducing peanut into a child’s diet early on can prevent the development of allergy to it.
The researchers recommend giving at-risk kids foods that contain peanuts when children are 4 to 6 months old. Infants that are at the highest risk for peanut allergies are those that have severe skin rashes or egg allergies. Of course, researchers also advise parents to first have their infant allergy tested before starting any food prevention treatment.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases paid for the last year’s study which included over 600 British infants who were at risk for peanut allergies. By the time these infants turned five, it was crystallized that among those children who started eating foods that contained peanuts early on, peanut allergies were much less common than in those who ate foods that didn’t contain peanuts.
The follow-up study involved most of the children who were included in the last year’s study. In this new study, the children had a year off, which means that they didn’t eat peanuts for a year. The researchers found that the allergies were still much less common among the children who started eating peanuts before the age of one than those who didn’t. Around 5 percent of children who ate peanuts in infancy were affected by peanut allergies, while 17 percent of other kids were allergic, which is a much higher percentage.
The researchers concluded that early introduction of allergy-inducing foods causes tolerance in children who are at risk for developing allergies.
The evidence is building up and it appears that early introduction could certainly better than avoidance, according to Dr. Gary Wong, a Hong Kong pediatrician. This is a huge breakthrough, and with more evidence we’ll be even surer that early introduction is the right thing to do, which will lead to minimizing the number of children affected by peanut (and other food) allergies.