Introducing peanuts early sees drop in infant allergies

Baby eating SI

Parents feeding their babies peanut products before they turn one has helped halt the rise of peanut allergies.

Previously, parents had been told to hold off giving babies high-allergy foods until after their first birthday. But since the guidelines were changed in 2016, there’s been a decrease in peanut allergies in infants.

Research led by Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) found there’s been a huge leap in the number of parents introducing peanuts to their babies in their first 12 months of life.

Baby peanut allergies drop

Apple Slices with Peanut Butter

Babies eating peanut products by the time they turn one jumped from 28 percent to 89 percent in the 10 years to 2019. And this has led to a 16 percent decrease in peanut allergy in infants.

“In the 1990s some guidelines recommended avoiding allergenic foods until age 1-3 years and avoidance of
these foods in infancy became widespread,” study lead author Victoria Soriano said.

“By 2008, this advice started to be removed based on increasing evidence that delaying allergenic foods was
associated with an increased food allergy risk. However, evidence was still insufficient for specific recommendations for what age these foods should be introduced.”

Melbourne mum Megan Chappel began feeding her 10-month-old son Stellan peanut products when he was five-months-old. “We try to incorporate peanut products into his diet as much as we can,” she said. “It’s reassuring to see peanut allergy has not only decreased but that many parents are following the new guidelines.”

Despite the positive outcome, the number of children with peanut allergy is still high. Australia has the highest reported rates of childhood food allergy in the world. About one in 10 infants and one in 20 children up to five-years-old are allergic.

The researchers are now exploring more studies. They’re currently recruiting Melbourne infants aged six to 12 weeks to test if vitamin D supplements can help prevent food allergies.

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