For years, allergists have warned parents of susceptible children to avoid peanuts. Further, during the past 10 years, peanut allergies in children in the US have more than doubled. Peanuts are known to cause a highly allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and, in some cases, fatal.
Now with results from the landmark Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) allergy study in the UK, published in the February 26, 2015, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, it seems exposure to peanuts actually helps prevent severe allergic reactions in some kids.
The 600 children in the study, all of whom were at high risk for developing peanut allergies, were followed for five years, starting when they were less than 1 year old. Those in the peanut group were given peanut-containing snack foods at least three times weekly; those in the other group avoided peanut products. In the peanut group, only 3% of the children developed peanut allergies vs. 17% in the avoidance group.
The researchers recommend that toddlers as young as 11 months old be given peanut-containing foods. But check with your pediatrician first.
Source: Immune Tolerance Network press release dated February 23, 2015