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Early peanut exposure can reduce likelihood of allergy

In many at-risk infants, avoidance isn’t the best strategy, study finds

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4:30pm, February 23, 2015
peanut butter

GET USED TO IT  Exposing infants to peanut early may help prevent peanut allergies, says a new study.

HOUSTON — Infants getting small but regular doses of peanut butter in their diet are less likely to develop an allergy to peanuts than similar babies who avoid peanuts altogether, a new study shows. The finding — in infants at higher-than-usual risk of peanut allergy — swings the balance of evidence in favor of early consumption and away from avoidance as a way to avert this troublesome food allergy.

The data call into question the notion that peanuts should be broadly avoided in infancy. In recent years, studies have hinted that early peanut consumption might be a better strategy to reduce the susceptibility to allergy.

“This is the first real data to support that emerging theory,” says Robert Wood, director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “The results of this study are dramatic. It’s not a borderline effect.”

Pediatric allergist Gideon Lack of King’s College London

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