Peanut-based products, such as peanut butter, can be given to children aged four to six months to reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of peanut allergy among children in Western countries has doubled within a decade. Around one in 50 children in the UK have the condition, with around 13,000 developing the allergy each year. This condition can be fatal.
Now, a group of researchers has claimed that prevalence in the UK could decrease by 77% if all babies were introduced to peanut-based products between four and six months, advanced the report. guardian.
“It would prevent 10,000 babies a year from developing a peanut allergy – a huge number and a real opportunity for preventative medicine,” said Graham Roberts, professor of pediatric allergy and respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton and one of the authors of the analysis. .
Gideon Lack, professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London, and another of the authors, said that although for many years it had been advocated that parents should avoid giving peanut products to babies – and then introducing them very gradually – the data showed now the importance of an early introduction.
In fact, the first advice may have contributed to the explosion of peanut allergy along with other factors such as a eczema increase.
“We believe that peanut allergy develops through exposure to peanut-containing products through the skin,” said Gideon Lack, noting that children with eczema are at greater risk of peanut allergy, and that the risk is higher the older they are. serious for eczema.
However, the team argues that the early introduction of peanut-based products should not be limited to children with the skin condition, as allergy to this legume can also develop in children without eczema.
The investigation, published at the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, is based on the analysis of two large studies. Although both have previously demonstrated the benefits of early introduction of peanut products in babies, questions remained, including the ideal age to introduce such foods.
According to the team, the analysis shows that peanut allergy mainly develops between six and 12 months. Furthermore, the impact of early introduction on allergy prevention decreases as the age of first introduction increases.
Mary Feeney, a clinical research dietitian at King’s College London and another of the authors, noted that guidelines on the age of introducing peanut foods should be changed in light of recent studies.
A breast-feedinghe continued, should continue to be accompanied by the introduction of solid foodbut parents should aim to give babies the equivalent of a heaping teaspoon of peanut butter three times a week.
The expert said that in Israel, where peanut butter puffs are a popular children’s snack, the prevalence of peanut allergy in children was about a tenth of that seen in the UK.
However, there are barriers to the early introduction of peanut products in the UK. “Part of it is culture, part of it is fearpart of it is this dichotomous belief that a child is either exclusively breastfed or eats solids, whereas the two can coexist.”