Can peanut allergies be prevented?
Why are so many children becoming allergic to foods? This has been a hotly debated question by allergists for decades. Food allergies, particularly to peanuts, have been increasing significantly over the past 20 years and peanut allergy now affects nearly 5% of the US population. The reasons for this increase are not entirely understood, but may largely be related to the fact that parents have historically been advised to avoid feeding their child peanuts during the first 2 years of life. A study published 3 years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine sought to answer the question whether early introduction of peanuts into a child’s diet (between 4 and 11 months of age) might help prevent the development of allergy to peanuts at age 5 years. In a group of 530 children who were at high risk of developing peanut allergy, those who received small daily doses of peanut-containing food in the first year of life had an 86% reduction in peanut allergy at age 5 compared with children who did not receive peanut (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1414850). This extremely important study now guides our current thinking about how to prevent allergies to peanuts – speak with Dr. Corren or his associates if you are interested in knowing more about this!