What has been considered common practice in preventing death from peanut allergy may soon become outdated.
The London researchers used 640 babies who were considered high-risk candidates for peanut allergies because they were allergic to eggs or had eczema. Half were fed peanut products every week while the others were not. Five years later, these children were tested again, and the results showed that those who were fed peanuts as babies were much less likely to become allergic later in life.
“Although other studies are urgently needed to address the many questions that remain, especially with respect to other foods, the LEAP study makes it clear that we can do something now to reverse the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy,” Dr. Rebecca S. Gruchalla and Dr. Hugh A. Sampson wrote in an editorial about the study.
In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested that children at risk for allergies shouldn’t eat peanuts before they turned three. However, the number of children suffering from a peanut allergy continued to increase — it has more than quadrupled since 1997 — forcing the AAP to take back their words in 2008.
Yet, despite the new study’s findings, it’s unclear whether or not the tactic will work on babies who are strongly allergic to peanuts. In addition, it’s uncertain if these tested children will remain immune if they stop eating peanuts regularly.
But, the research is still a breakthrough.
“This is a major study — really what we would call a landmark study,” American Academy of Pediatrics advisor Scott Sicherer told NPR. “There’s been a huge question about why there’s an increase in peanut allergy and what we can do to try to stem that increase. And this is a study that directly addresses that issue.”
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