Peanut allergies could drop dramatically if parents gave their babies creamy peanut butter between four and six months of age, a new study finds.
Friday, March 17, 2023 2:10 PM, UK
Giving babies soft peanut butter between ages 4 and 6 months may cause peanut allergies to plummet, scientists say.
Researchers found that there was a clear “opportunity” for exposing babies to peanuts and reducing the risk of them developing an allergy.
It should be done by the time they’re six months old, scientists found — and even earlier, at four months, for babies with eczema, which is a risk factor for allergy.
Introducing peanut products into the diet of all babies by six months could reduce this peanut allergy across the population to 77%, the study found.
But waiting to introduce the peanut products until a baby’s first birthday would lead to only a 33% reduction.
Most peanut allergies have already developed by the time a child turns one.
Peanut allergy affects about 2% (1 in 50) of children in the UK and has been on the rise in recent decades, according to Allergy UK.
The study emphasizes that the baby should be ready to start solid foods and should be given soft peanut butter or baby-friendly snacks – not whole or broken peanuts.
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The study, which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Now, found that the greatest benefit could be achieved if the entire population was targeted.
Professor Graham Roberts of the University of Southampton, who led the study, said the advice to avoid peanuts “understandably has led to parents’ fears of early introduction”.
But encouraging parents to introduce their babies to peanuts could be a “simple, low-cost, safe intervention… that would have huge benefits for future generations.”
Professor Gideon Lack of King’s College London said the study echoes the experience in Israel, where peanut snacks are given to young children and peanut allergies are rare.