Feb 24, 2015 5:28 PM
A new study challenges an old belief and shows early exposure to peanuts actually helps prevent allergies in kids.
Peanuts are one of the most common and sometimes deadly food allergens in the U.S. The longstanding advice has been to keep babies who are likely to develop an allergy away from peanut-based foods. But doctors found that exposing infants to peanuts before their first birthday actually helped prevent the allergy by helping them build a tolerance.
Researchers in Britain followed 640 babies, from four to 11 months old, who were considered at high risk for developing allergies. They separated them into two groups. One group avoided peanuts, and the other ate a small amount of peanut protein every week.
After five years the peanut eaters were 81% less likely to develop an allergy to peanuts.
It's important to note the babies were checked first to make sure they didn't already have a peanut allergy. Parents should not try this on their own.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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