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  • Posted May 29, 2024

Early Exposure to Peanuts Can Prevent Long-Term Allergy

Feeding kids peanuts early in childhood can drastically reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy, a new clinical trial reports.

Children regularly fed peanut products from infancy to age 5 had a 71% lower rate of peanut allergies by the time they reached their teen years, researchers reported May 28 in the journal NEJM Evidence.

The study "should reinforce parents' and caregivers' confidence that feeding their young children peanut products beginning in infancy according to established guidelines can provide lasting protection from peanut allergy,"said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). 

"If widely implemented, this safe, simple strategy could prevent tens of thousands of cases of peanut allergy among the 3.6 million children born in the United States each year,"Marrazzo said in a NIAID news release.

For the study, researchers tracked more than 500 kids who had earlier participated in a clinical trial to test exposure to peanut as a means of warding off peanut allergy.

Half of the kids regularly consumed peanuts from infancy, while the other half avoided peanuts.

Early introduction of peanut into their diets reduced kids' risk of peanut allergy by 81% at age 5, researchers found.

This new study followed up on those findings by tracking the kids into adolescence, with an average age of 13.

The researchers found that more than 15% of kids who avoided peanuts in infancy now had a peanut allergy, compared to more than 4% from the kids exposed to peanuts from an early age.

Researchers found that kids in the peanut exposure group did not always consistently eat peanuts, and even had some periods where they weren't eating any peanut products.

This shows that the protective effect of early peanut consumption holds up over time, without the need to reinforce it by continuing to eat peanuts consistently through childhood and adolescence, researchers said.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic has more about peanut allergy treatment.

SOURCE: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, news release, May 28, 2024

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