In the past decade, peanut allergy has become scarier than killer bees and shark attacks. This fear has a solid basis since peanut allergy has become the leading cause of anaphylaxis and death related to food allergy in the US.
What can we do to fight back? Instead of telling parents to avoid giving peanut to their children until 3 years old, we now believe that consuming peanut protein as early as 4 months can be protective. A smart group of London research scientists recently published a landmark study, Learning Early About Peanut allergy (LEAP), that has rocked the allergy community.
More than 500 infants (younger than 11 months) at high risk for peanut allergy were randomly assigned to receive peanut products or to avoid as typically recommended. At 5 years of age, the children were given a peanut challenge to see who became allergic to peanut. The results were striking — overall, the prevalence of peanut allergy was 80% less in the group eating peanut compared to the ones avoiding it!
There is still much more to learn about preventing and treating peanut allergy. However, At Windom Allergy we can begin the battle of reducing peanut allergy by identifying the children at high risk. We suggest that any infant between 4 and 12 months of age believed to be at risk for peanut allergy (eczema, other food sensitivities, or a family history of allergies) should undergo skin-prick testing for peanut. From those results we can discuss whether to include peanut into the child’s diet.