(NaturalNews) Food allergies are on the rise in the Western world, but evidence suggests that feeding kids peanuts and eggs early in their life may reduce their risk of developing allergies to these foods.
Scientists at Imperial College London analyzed data from 146 studies, involving more than 200,000 kids. They found that children who ate peanut-containing products between the ages of four and 11 months had a 70 percent reduced risk of developing an allergy to the nuts compared to kids who ate them for the first time when they were older.
They also found that children who started eating eggs between the ages of four and six months had a 40 percent reduced risk of developing an allergy to eggs. As reported by the Daily Mail Online, the scientists found no evidence that the same could be done to prevent allergies to fish, milk, gluten, or other types of nuts.
The findings were published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Peanut and egg sensitivities on the rise
These new findings contradict the previous belief that parents should not feed their little one solid foods that could trigger an allergic reaction.
“Until now we have not been advising parents to give these foods to young babies, and have even advised parents to delay giving allergenic foods such as egg, peanut, fish and wheat to their infant,” said Dr. Robert Boyle, lead author of the research from the Department of Medicine at Imperial
Peanut and egg sensitivities are the most common food allergies in infants and toddlers. An editorial published in the same issue of JAMA pointed out that not so long ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that eggs be kept away from infants until they were at least two years old and peanuts until three years of age.
However, the authors noted that despite these recommendations food allergy prevalence nearly doubled in the United States. Therefore, it is expected that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will soon release new guidelines that may formally recommend early peanut consumption for kids with a high risk of developing a peanut allergy.
Should guidelines be changed?
As reported by the Daily Mail Online, around one in 10 children in the U.K. are allergic to foods such as nuts, egg, milk or wheat. While the National Health Service (NHS) guidelines currently recommend feeding babies exclusively on breast milk until they are at least six months old, this study questions this general belief.
A spokesman for the UK Food Standards Agency, which commissioned the research, said that the Government is currently considering these significant findings as part of its review of complementary feeding for infants.
Experts agree that there appears to be a window of opportunity in the first year of a baby’s life where exposure to peanut and egg may slash the risk of developing a food allergy. However, they said the studies are still far from conclusive, and further research is needed to validate the findings.
Until further confirmation, Professor Graham Roberts, an expert in pediatric allergy at the University of Southampton recommends parents should be cautious. He said that infants should be tested for egg and peanut allergies. If the results come back negative, the pediatrician may then recommend the introduction of peanut butter and eggs into their diet.
However, it is also important to make sure that babies are also developmentally ready to begin trying hard-to-eat foods such as peanut butter. So, in addition to making sure your child is not allergic to peanuts or eggs, it is also good to make sure that they have developed enough to consume such foods. Peanut butter and peanuts are tough for children to chew and swallow, so they are a choking hazard to babies and small children. Always supervise your child when they are trying a new food for the first time, and always keep an eye on small children and infants when they are eating.