Preventing peanut allergies.
The Question: Does early exposure to peanuts in infants at high risk for allergies increase their risk of developing a peanut allergy?
The Study: The 640 infants, four to eleven months old, in this study were all at high risk for developing allergies based on their history of severe eczema, egg allergy, or both. Each infant was tested for preexisting sensitivity to peanut extract with a skin-prick test. The infants were randomly assigned to either peanut avoidance or peanut exposure groups. At age 60 months all the children were tested for peanut sensitivity with skin-prick tests.
The Results: In the 530 infants with an initially negative skin-prick test, peanut allergy was found in 13.7% of the infants in the peanut-avoidance group and 1.9% of the infants in the peanut consumption group. In the 98 who had an initial positive test, 35% in the avoidance group and 10.5% in the consumption group tested positive at 60 months.
Comment: Peanut allergies are on the increase. In the last 10 years the rate has doubled in Western countries and is becoming more common in Africa and Asia. This study supports the idea that avoidance may not be best and a certain amount of exposure may help lessen the chances of allergies.
Read More: The New England Journal of Medicine, 02/26/15