Could early peanut exposure ward off peanut allergy?

November 10, 2008

A study published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that consuming peanuts in infancy may be linked to a low risk of peanut allergy.

A study published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that consuming peanuts in infancy may be linked to a low risk of peanut allergy.

Investigators studied peanut allergy prevalence and diet histories of 5,171 Jewish children from the UK and 5,615 Jewish children from Israel. Results showed that UK children had a prevalence of peanut allergy that was ten times higher than that of children from Israel (1.85% in the UK versus 0.17% in Israel).

There was no difference in environmental exposure to common allergy causes between the two groups (eg, house dust mites and grass pollen). In addition, there was no difference in social class and genetic background.

However, researchers noted that approximately 69% of infants in Israel consume peanuts by age 9 months, compared with 10% of infants in the UK. Also, Israeli mothers consumed significantly more peanuts during pregnancy compared to UK mothers.

This finding may mean that the recommendation to avoid peanut exposure in early infancy could explain the higher incidence of peanut allergy in the UK children. Randomized, controlled trials would be needed to confirm this potential explanation.