The future of peanut allergy prevention?

Research carried out in the UK, and reported in the most recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that introducing peanut into the diet during infancy may be protective against the development of peanut allergy.

The study compared two strategies to prevent peanut allergy — consumption or avoidance of dietary peanut — in infants who were at high risk of developing peanut allergy and who already had an allergy to egg and/or severe eczema. More than 600 high-risk infants between 4 and 11 months of age were randomly assigned to either avoid peanut entirely or to include at least 6 grams of peanut protein in three or more meals per week.

This regimen continued until 5 years of age when their peanut allergy status was assessed by oral food challenge. The infants were monitored throughout this period with recurring visits with health care professionals, in addition to completing dietary surveys by telephone. A significant reduction in the rate of peanut allergy of between 70 and 86% was recorded in participants who consumed peanut up to age 5 years compared to those who avoided peanuts.

Further research is needed to see if the continued consumption of peanut is necessary to maintain the protection against the development of peanut allergy. Between 5-8% of children and 1-2% of adults on the island of Ireland have a food allergy. An allergy to peanut is amongst the most severe and is one of the principal causes of anaphylaxis due to food allergy in the western world. It can be fatal.

Peanuts have a lot of health benefits, they are a rich source of protein, fibre, omega 3 and vitamins and minerals. They have also been associated with reductions of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Posted: 27/02/2015 08:43:16 by Laura Keaver


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