Controlled Intake of Peanuts May Be Helpful

A peanut allergy can be prevented over the long term from infancy. This was the conclusion of a study* conducted on infants at high risk of a peanut allergy, who had been given small amounts of peanut protein every week from the ages of one to five years in a previous study. Peanut protein was then avoided for 12 months, which demonstrated that immunisation remained for most of the children.

More than 600 infants considered at risk of allergy took part in the preliminary study. One group regularly consumed small amounts of peanuts during the first five years of life. A second group completely avoided peanuts and peanut products for the same period. The result: At 60 months of age, 13.7% of the participants in the group that avoided peanut allergens had a peanut allergy, while only 1.9% of participants In the group that ate peanuts had a peanut allergy.

The follow-up study proved that the immunisation starting from the first year of life remained for a longer period. In this study, all of the children in both groups avoided peanuts. Of the original avoidance group, 18.6% of the children reacted to peanuts in a provocation test versus 4.8% from the peanut group.

The European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) advises that the study results should not taken as an overall recommendation for mothers to give their infants peanuts or peanut products at an early age. If the child is already sensitised to peanuts, severe allergic reactions cannot be ruled out.

Around one to two per cent of all children in industrialised countries are allergic to peanuts.

* Du Toit, George; Sayre, Peter H.; Roberts, Graham; Sever, Michelle L.; Lawson, Kaitie; Bahnson, Henry T.; Brough, Helen A.; Santos, Alexandra F.; Harris, Kristina M.; Radulovic, Suzana; Basting, Monica; Turcanu, Victor; Plaut, Marshall;, Lack, Gideon (2016): Effect of Avoidance on Peanut Allergy after Early Peanut Consumption. In: New England Journal of Medicine, 374. p. 1435-1443.