Prevent Peanut Allergies in Kids: Study Reveals 71% Reduced Risk by Introducing Peanuts Early

LONDON, United Kingdom – A recent study conducted by researchers revealed that feeding children peanut products from infancy through the age of five can significantly reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy into early adolescence. Children who consumed peanut pastes or puffed peanut snacks regularly from four to six months onwards were reported to be 71% less likely to have a peanut allergy at the age of 13 compared to those who did not consume peanuts, indicating a lasting impact of early peanut consumption.

According to the study, this simple dietary intervention could potentially prevent around 10,000 cases of life-threatening peanut allergies annually in the UK alone, and contribute to a global reduction of 100,000 cases per year. Previous recommendations to avoid peanuts in early childhood had made parents hesitant, but the evidence now suggests that early exposure to peanuts can offer long-term protection against allergies.

Dr. Gideon Lack, a professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London, emphasized the importance of introducing peanuts to babies by four months for those with eczema and by six months for those without. The study also highlighted the increased risk of developing peanut allergies among babies with eczema, as their skin might be more susceptible to traces of the food triggering an immune response.

Peanut allergies have been on the rise in many western countries, with approximately one in 50 children in the UK currently affected. While some children may outgrow the allergy, for others, it means a lifetime of avoiding peanuts and the constant fear of a severe allergic reaction upon accidental exposure to the food.

The researchers noted that early introduction of peanut products offers a dual advantage by preventing the majority of peanut allergies while also enabling early identification and treatment for those who do develop the allergy. They recommended giving children peanut butter or puffs as soon as they can manage soft foods, aiming for a small amount three times a week.

It is crucial to avoid whole or chopped peanuts due to the choking hazard, but ground peanut puffs can be a safe alternative for babies. The study, known as the Leap-Trio trial, followed 508 children to an average age of 13, demonstrating that the protective effects of early peanut consumption persisted regardless of the children’s peanut-eating habits post-five years of age.