Peanut allergies in Western countries have doubled during the past decade. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine may help reverse this trend. Researchers found that introducing peanuts during early childhood can actually decrease the risk of developing a peanut allergy later in life.
The researchers followed 640 children with a high risk of food allergies, beginning when they were between 4 and 11 months old. Half the children were fed peanuts, while the other half were not given any. All were tested for sensitivities to peanuts prior to and at the end of the study period, which averaged five years.
The research found that nearly 14 percent of those that avoided peanuts had a peanut allergy at the end of five years; seven times more than the 2 percent of those that were fed peanuts and displayed subsequent sensitivity.