Feeding high risk kids peanuts may prevent a deadly allergy

Peanut allergies are a very common yet potentially deadly problem that plagues the life of an estimated 1 in every 100 people in the UK. However, this number is growing worryingly, and so methods to reduce this number are being highly sought.
It has been evidenced by a research team that introducing peanuts into the diet of high risk infants early on can lead to a reduced risk of a peanut allergy in later life by up to 81 per cent.
The study, known as LEAP, was sparked by observations about the lower prevalence of peanut allergies in Israel, where peanuts form an integral part of a lifelong diet from a young age.
Peanut allergies are more common in children with egg allergies or eczema, and these were used as indicators of children who could develop peanut allergies.
600 children with these indicators were followed for the first few years of their lives, and half of them were given 6g of peanut protein a week. After five years, the children who were given the peanut protein were found to have a 81 per cent reduced risk of having the allergy.
The director of the USA’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation, Dr Daniel Rotrosen, said in a statement: “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.
“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.”
There was no evidence gathered in the study of the safety of giving all high risk children peanuts at an early age. If your child is at high risk of developing an allergy to peanuts, consult with your GP or an allergist to find out what safe measures you can take.
A follow up study will aim to determine if the effects of this 81 per cent reduction require constant peanut consumption to maintain an immunity to the allergy, or if the effect is permanent.

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