Preventing peanut allergies at a young age

For millions of Americans peanuts could be life-threatening. According to, about three million people in the U.S. suffer from tree nut and peanut allergies and the number of children allergic to peanuts has tripled between 1997 and 2008. But a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine could be a game changer.

47 ABC spoke with Dr. Victor Gong who says, This is a remarkable study that turned the tables on all of our thinking so the new study obviously introducing peanut products to infants will decrease their chances of getting a peanut allergy so it is startling.”

You heard right. The research suggests that preventing infants who are at risk of developing a peanut allergy from having a full allergy for the rest of their lives could come down to exposing the child to peanuts.

One parent told 47 ABC, “I think its a great idea. I think it’s a great thing if it helps them to become more immune to you know peanut allergies as they get older than why not.”

The study was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Researchers fed small amounts of peanut protein to infants between four and eleven months old. Almost 14 percent of the infants who avoided peanuts developed the allergy.
But of those who were exposed to the peanut protein just under 2 percent did. The results are startling, but there are concerns.

Dietician at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Dr. Malinda Cecil tells 47 ABC, “The question is how frequently does the children need to consume this and that’s where the research is not clear and that’s why its still pretty controversial.”

Salisbury resident Jon Lipka tells 47 ABC, “Until the scientists have really figured it out i think its something the parents need to use their judgement on.”

It’s just the beginning of a long road ahead, but the research suggests that the rapid spread of peanut allergies could be slowed by attacking the risk in its infancy.

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