Preventing Peanut Allergy
In a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2015, the Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP) team concluded that early introduction of peanuts could prevent allergy in high-risk infants. This study set out to answer the question of whether early exposure or avoidance is the better strategy to prevent allergy and the team concluded that sustained peanut consumption beginning in the first 11 months of life, as compared with peanut avoidance, resulted in a significantly smaller proportion of children with peanut allergy.
Will this study radically change the advice that parents are given about reducing the risk of allergy? Aside from the choking hazard that nuts represent, there is no reason to exclude these foods from the diets of infants and children with no family history of nut allergy and more widespread consumption of peanuts in the early years is likely to reverse the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy in society. The message for high-risk groups is less clear cut and the team are doing further work to find more answers in the LEAP-On study.