Will peanut-free schools be something that we'll one day tell our grandchildren about?
Feeding infants peanuts could help stave off some allergies later in life, according to a blockbuster study published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study, conducted by the King's College in London, could have groundbreaking effects on peanut allergies. As the study notes, severe peanut allergies have doubled in Western countries in the past 10 years and is on the rise in Africa and Asia as well. Since 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended children not be fed food with peanuts until they are three years old, and many schools have insisted peanut bans.
But the study found that introducing peanuts at an early age actually helps infants, rather than harms them. Conducted in London, infants between four to 11 months old with severe eczema, egg allergy or both were either regularly fed food with peanuts or they avoided those foods. A small group had to be excluded after already developing an allergy to peanut foods.
Of the 530 children who were not allergic to peanuts at the start, only 1.9% who were fed peanut foods reported an allergy at age 5 while 13.7% of the children who avoided peanut foods had developed peanut allergies.
Ninety-eight children who initially had a peanut allergy, 35.3% of those in the avoidance group had developed a full-fledged allergy, while just 10.6% in the group fed peanuts.
Actual peanuts, though, are not recommended for children under the age of five due to choking hazards.