With an estimated 1 in 13 children in the US having a food allergy, parents need to take the necessary precautions for our kids' sake. Doctors have recommended that new moms and dads remove certain edibles from their little ones' diets, but new info might change that! A new study reinforces the idea that exposing babies to peanuts just may actually help reduce peanut allergies. Of course, a pediatrician should always be consulted when it comes to matters like this, but it's pretty exciting news.
It's okay if you're turning your head sideways at the computer screen. (So are we!) The idea of a giving a child the very thing that could lead to serious health complications -- for the sake of trying to prevent medical issues down the road -- might sound odd.
But, guess what? It seems to be working.
Last year, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that infants most in danger of developing a peanut allergy can reduce their risk by consuming peanuts during the first year of life. Researchers have been following close to 600 children who are high-risk for developing a peanut allergy -- for example, kids with a family history of allergies.
In this first study, participants -- between ages 4 to 11 months -- who were given a form of peanuts to consume were 80 percent less likely to have a peanut allergy by age 5. In total, roughly 3 percent of babies from the consumption group developed a peanut allergy, in comparison to 17 percent of babies who never ate it.
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For this new study (published in the same journal), researchers followed up with the same children from the original trial, who were all now ages 5 or 6. And the results are the same: High-risk children who consumed peanuts earlier in life developed a tolerance, even if they stopped eating peanuts for a full year.
"These findings are important because they demonstrate the potential for people to become tolerant to peanut, and not just desensitized," said James R. Baker, Jr., MD, CEO and chief medical officer of the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
As wonderful as this news is for parents with a child at risk for peanut allergies, experts do caution parents to seek medical advice. "Parents should consult with their pediatrician if they have questions about the timing of introducing allergenic foods," warns Dr. Baker.
The Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) team has also created a new interim guidance resource that recommends additional steps to take before giving your child a peanut-based food.
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