Extreme Reversal – Research Now Suggests Early introduction of Peanuts to Infants May Prevent Food Allergy
This story reminds me of the movie, “Sleeper.” The Woody Allen movie from the 70s focuses on a man who was put into a cryogenic freeze when he died after a simple operation in a New York hospital. He woke up 200 years later and found that the world was very different. He was surprised that everyone was smoking cigarettes. This future scientists told him that research had determined that tobacco was extremely healthy for the lungs.
Of course this is silly, but one thing rings true. As science moves forward, some old dogma turns out to be very wrong. This is the case with the thought of restricting allergenic foods until later in life. Pediatricians have been taught to tell parents that they shouldn’t give their children such foods as milk, egg, peanuts, and shellfish until the child is much older. That advice is likely the opposite of good advice.
The idea about peanut introduction early in life came from an observation that children in Israel were less likely to develop peanut allergy than children in other parts of the world. Israeli children are fed, at a very early age, treats that contain fairly large amounts of peanuts, whereas children in England, for instance, aren’t supposed to eat peanuts until much later.
So British researchers started a study looking at the very early introduction of peanuts into the diet of infants. They found that there was a dramatic decrease (80% less peanut allergy) in the incidence of peanut allergy as a children grew up. I imagine that, in the very near future, the recommendations for when to introduce allergenic foods will be drastically different than in the past.