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Peanut Allergies could Fall if Babies are Weaned Early on Peanut Products

If peanut products were added to all babies’ diets at 4-6 months of age, peanut allergy could fall by 77%, according to a new study published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Now.

Peanut allergy affects 1 in 50 children in the UK, and in recent decades has increased three-fold.

This new study identifies a clear ‘window of opportunity’, depending on the child’s health, for the introduction of peanut products between 4 and 6 months of age.

The new analysis was led by Professor Graham Roberts from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and University of Southampton, and Professor Gideon Lack at King’s, with expertise from the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the USA.

The new study, with contributions from Professor George du Toit and Mary Feeney from King’s College London, used data drawn from the EAT (Enquiring About Tolerance) and LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) randomised-controlled trials*, plus the Peanut Allergy Sensitization observational study.

The modelled approach showed:

  • It was best to introduce peanut products to babies at 4-6 months of age
  • For babies with eczema, introduction at 4 months is recommended
  • Peanut products should be in the form of smooth peanut butter or other peanut snacks suitable for babies. Of course, the baby should also be developmentally ready to start solids.

Overall, the data found that introducing peanut products into all babies’ diets by 6 months could reduce peanut allergy across the population by up to 77%. Only a 33% reduction would be seen if peanut products were introduced at 12 months of age.

*Both studies were led by Professor Lack at King’s and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
Paper: Roberts G, et al. (2022). Defining the window of opportunity and target populations to prevent peanut allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol.;

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