Feb 25, 2015 05:41 PM EST
Ever wonder what's best: to feed your baby peanut butter or not, for fear of a deadly allergic reaction? Well while past guidelines suggested that parents steer clear of most allergens until an older age, a new study published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that avoidance may no longer be the best method. In fact, the study researchers suggest that early exposure may even prevent your children from developing the allergy altogether.
"Clinical practice guidelines from the United Kingdom in 1998 and from the United States in 2000 recommended the exclusion of allergenic foods from the diets of infants at high risk for allergy and from the diets of their mothers during pregnancy and lactation" lead author of the study, George Du Toit says. "However, studies in which food allergens have been eliminated from the diet have consistently failed to show that elimination from the diet prevented the development of IgE-mediated food allergies."
To best assess which method would address the onset of certain food allergies, the researchers developed a trial known as the "Learning Early about Peanut Allergy" (LEAP) trial, wherein 640 infants were tested until the age of 60 months to see if allergen intervention would be effective in high-risk cases. And by slowly exposing the children to the allergen early on, the researchers were able to reveal a diminished chance of developing a severe allergy later in life.
"Among infants with high-risk atopic disease, sustained peanut consumption beginning in the first 11 months of life, as compared with peanut avoidance, resulted in a significantly smaller proportion of children with peanut allergy at the age of 60 months" Du Toit says. "This intervention was safe, tolerated, and highly efficacious."
"The early introduction of peanuts significantly decreased the frequency of the development of peanut allergy among children at high risk for this allergy and modulated immune responses to peanuts."
Want to see how the researchers did it?
In a video released by the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers describe exactly what their study was, and how they came to their results. While the data analyses and "dual allergen hypothesis" may be better suited for the interpretation of immunologists and endocrinologists, this easy-to-follow video will give you a better understanding of why feeding your child peanut butter may be better idea than you ever thought...and a delicious one at that.
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