It is currently recommended in the United Kingdom, Australia and United States that peanuts not be introduced until age three as an attempt to decrease the likelihood of allergic reaction. However, peanut allergies are still on the rise despite this guideline (they’ve doubled in the last 10 years!). A study involving Jewish children in the United Kingdom and Israel has found that the Israeli children who were exposed to peanuts frequently during infancy were 10 times LESS likely to develop a peanut allergy than their UK counterparts.
“The most obvious difference in the diet of infants in both populations occurs in the introduction of peanut. Israeli infants are introduced to peanut during early weaning and continue to eat peanut more frequently and in higher amounts than UK infants, who avoid peanut, as per Department of Health recommendations. The observed differences in Peanut Allergies between the UK and Israel are unlikely to be explained by genetic differences. Our findings raise the question of whether early and frequent ingestion of high-dose peanut protein during infancy might prevent the development of Peanut Allergies through tolerance induction. Paradoxically, past recommendations in the United States and current recommendations in the UK and Australia might be promoting the development of Peanut Allergies and could explain the continued increase in the prevalence of Peanut Allergies observed in these countries.”
The guidelines have not yet changed as a result of this study, but it makes you wonder if they should!
Want to know more? Read Susan Markel’s post about Peanut Allergies on BabyCenter.