Peanut allergies could be reduced by 71%
The Sector > Research > Peanut allergies in children could be reduced by 71%, researchers find

Peanut allergies in children could be reduced by 71%, researchers find

by Freya Lucas

June 04, 2024

If children were fed peanut products regularly from infancy to five years of age the rate of peanut allergy in adolescence could be reduced by 71 per cent, researchers found recently, even when the children ate or avoided peanut products as desired for many years.


The new findings, from a study sponsored and co-funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), provide conclusive evidence that achieving long-term prevention of peanut allergy is possible through early allergen consumption. 


The findings, NIAID Director Dr Jeanne Marrazzo said, should reinforce parents’ and caregivers’ confidence that feeding their young children peanut products beginning in infancy according to established guidelines can provide lasting protection from peanut allergy.


“If widely implemented, this safe, simple strategy could prevent tens of thousands of cases of peanut allergy among the 3.6 million children born in the United States each year,” she added. 


The findings were drawn from the LEAP-Trio study, which builds on the seminal results of the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) clinical trial and the subsequent LEAP-On study, both sponsored and co-funded by NIAID. 


The LEAP investigators designed the LEAP-Trio study to test whether the protection gained from early consumption of peanut products would last into adolescence if the children could choose to eat peanut products in whatever amount and frequency they wanted. Those children who were allergic to peanuts at six years of age were advised to continue avoiding it.  


During the LEAP trial, half of the participants regularly consumed peanut products from infancy until five years of age, while the other half avoided peanuts during that period. Researchers found that early introduction of peanut products reduced the risk of peanut allergy at five years of age by 81 per cent. 


Subsequently, children from LEAP who participated in LEAP-On were asked to avoid eating peanut products from ages 5 to 6 years. Investigators found that most children from the original peanut-consumption group remained protected from peanut allergy at six years of age. 


The researchers also found that although participants in the LEAP peanut-consumption group ate more peanut products throughout childhood than the other participants overall, the frequency and amount of peanut consumed varied widely in both groups and included periods of not eating peanut products. This demonstrated that the protective effect of early peanut consumption lasted without the need to eat peanut products consistently throughout childhood and early adolescence. 


The results were published in the journal NEJM Evidence. Access them in full here

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