Peanut allergy, an occasionally life-threatening condition that has prompted changes in food consumption rules everywhere from pre-schools to airlines, can be sharply reduced by feeding peanut protein to children at risk for the condition beginning when they are infants, researchers reported in a landmark study Monday..For years, mothers have been keeping toddlers away from peanuts and all kinds of other foods on the advice of government scientists for fear of stimulating food allergies. In all likelihood, this advice has served only to make food allergies more prevalent.This after the recent pull back of the cholesterol recommendations show how you should take their words with a large grain of salt (whose hazards have also been overrated.
The findings could have implications for other potentially dangerous childhood allergies, such as those to milk and eggs, and, if follow-up research shows the approach is safe, might be a response to the rapid spread of peanut allergies in the western world, experts said.
"This is really quite an important study," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, which partly funded the research. "We have been frustrated in what to do about it, and most of the tendency has been, since it's such a scary phenomenon...that parents and even pediatricians have taken the avoidance approach--keep them away from peanuts."
But in fact, the study contends, feeding small amounts of peanut protein to infants between the ages of four and 11 months who are at risk for peanut allergies dramatically reduced the incidence of the condition at the age of five, when they were compared to a group of children who did not consume peanut protein. Among the larger of two groups of children in the study, for example, 13.7 percent of those who avoided peanut protein developed the allergy while just 1.9 percent of those who consumed it did.