Feeding your toddlers peanuts may save them from peanut allergies

Anybody want a peanut? Picture: Getty Images

A team of British researchers challenged a long-standing wisdom about peanut allergy and may have discovered a way to cure it.

The age-old stance on allergies has been that parents should not feed their kids foods that could potentially trigger allergic reactions until they were older.

But six years ago, scientists from the paediatric allergy department at King’s College London began giving peanuts frequently to a test group of infants aged 4-11 months.

The children they were interested in were those who already had types of other allergies, such as eczema and were at a high risk of developing a peanut allergy.

At the age of five – last year – they were tested for peanut allergy. And the kids eating peanuts had 81 per cent fewer peanut allergies than those who didn’t eat them.

Then the kids went peanut-free for 12 months.

And this week, the team published the results from the study which found that even after a 12-month break from eating peanuts, those children at a high risk of developing an allergy to peanuts were still testing in the “lower risk” range.

At 6, just 4.8% of kids who had eaten peanuts in their first five years were at risk of an allergic reaction, up from 3.6% the year before. The team said that increase was “not statistically significant”.

Of those kids who went peanut-free for their entire life to age 6, 18.6% tested positive to being at risk of an allergic reaction.

Lead author Gideon Lack told CBS News that the study clearly showed “early consumption of peanuts gives you long-lasting protection against peanut allergy”.

However, the team also said more testing was required, even though the results were extremely positive.

Parents are still advised to consult with specialists before giving infants peanuts for the first time, especially if their child is susceptible to eczema or other allergic reactions.

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