Peanut allergy may best be treated by exposing infants to the savory treat. Ensuring children are fed with peanut protein can significantly reduce the possibility of developing an allergy later on.
Peanut allergy, which can occasionally turn into a life-threatening condition, has forced institutions from pre-schools to airlines to closely monitor their food supplies. The allergy has even effected multiple protocols and revisions in food consumption rules over the years.
However, a simple practice can sharply reduce the risk of developing an allergy to peanuts, announced researchers earlier this week. Their recently concluded study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates feeding peanut protein to infants and children, when they are at the cusp of being averse to peanuts, can significantly lower the probability of them developing an allergy.
Peanut allergy is spreading rapidly in the developed countries. The western world is increasingly wary of peanuts, one of the abundantly grown crops, which finds its usage in multiple other foods as well. Hence the discovery of such a simple technique is ground-breaking, exclaimed Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health,
“This is really quite an important study. We have been frustrated in what to do about it and most of the tendency has been, since it’s such a scary phenomenon…that parents and even pediatricians have taken the avoidance approach–keep them away from peanuts.”
On the contrary, the study indicates feeding small amounts of peanut protein to infants between the ages of four and 11 months – who are at risk for peanut allergies – dramatically reduced the incidence of the condition at the age of five, when they were compared to a group of children who did not consume peanut protein. To corroborate the hypothesis, 13.7 percent of those who avoided peanut protein developed the allergy while just 1.9 percent of those who consumed it did.
Peanut allergies have known to cause acute anaphylaxis (constriction of the airways). If not treated in time, the allergy has even become life-threatening. At-risk people are often advised to carry injectable epinephrine with them to counter the effects of a reaction. This study could easily bring down the number of incidents and people would happily consume peanuts and products which contain them.
Though a lot of follow-up research is still required, the same study may be extrapolated to develop immunity and tolerance in children about other items in the food group to which they are commonly allergic to. The same principle of early exposure may prove valuable to develop acceptance to milk, eggs and other products.
[Update] A similar study showed that wearing a skin patch containing 50 to 250 micrograms of peanut protein appeared to protect people with peanut allergies against the dangerous reactions of the condition.
[Image Credit | DOGO News]