Peanut Allergies Reduced by Early Consumption

Pharmacy Times, April 2015 Respiratory Health, Volume 81, Issue 4

Introducing peanut products into the diets of infants can reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy, a study suggests.

Introducing peanut products into the diets of infants can reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy, a study suggests.

The study, published online on February 26, 2015, in the New England Journal of Medicine, randomly assigned over 600 infants aged 4 to 11 months to either completely avoid peanut products or to consume at least 6 g of peanut protein per week. After assessing the children at 5 years of age, the research team found that the group who began eating peanuts at an early age experienced an 81% reduction in peanut allergy compared with the group that avoided peanuts.

“Food allergies are a growing concern, not just in the United States, but around the world,” said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a press release. “For a study to show a benefit of this magnitude in the prevention of peanut allergy is without precedent. The results have the potential to transform how we approach food allergy prevention.”

The study’s lead author, Gideon Lack, MD, noted that the safety and effectiveness of introducing peanuts to infants who showed early signs of a peanut allergy are unknown, as the study excluded such patients. Following the study’s publication, the American College of Surgeons issued an advisory reminding parents not to feed peanuts to infants or children at risk for peanut allergy.

The research team is currently planning a follow-up study to assess whether children must continue to consume peanuts to maintain their tolerance.