Peanut allergies are very difficult for those who suffer from them. Not only can the symptoms themselves be painful, but having to go to great lengths to avoid peanuts is hard. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple way to greatly reduce your chance of developing a peanut allergy in the first place?
A recent study tested infants between 4 and 10 months for peanut allergies. Both those with both positive and negative results were randomly assigned to either eat or avoid peanuts for 60 months. The researchers then tested the children for peanut allergies again after 60 months. Among those who had negative results (no initial allergy), 13.7% of the avoidance group ended up with peanut allergies, whereas only 1.9% of the consumption group ended up with the allergy. Among those with positive results (an initial allergy), 35.3% of the avoidance group ended up with peanut allergies, but just 10.6% of the consumption group (see below).
The results support the so-called “hygiene hypothesis” which states that avoidance of bacteria with antibacterial soaps and cleansers and avoidance of many foods prevents our immune systems from building up defenses for each external object.
Exposure to peanuts appears to protect children against developing peanut allergies. For this reason, parents should consider feeding their children peanuts from an early age. This is strengthened by the fact that nuts themselves are very good for you. Of course, if your child begins to develop symptoms from eating peanuts, you should take him/her to a doctor.
Du Toit, George, et al. “Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy.” New England Journal of Medicine 372.9 (2015): 803-813.