New research finds introducing peanut into the diets of high-risk infants is largely successful

New research finds introducing peanut into the diets of high-risk infants is largely successful

  • 16 February 2024
  • Healthcare News
  • News
  • Research

A US study has found that only 2% of high-risk infants developed peanut allergy after introduction of peanuts into their diet. The results support other studies showing low rates of new allergies after early introduction of peanut but demonstrate the need for extra guidance, reassurance and support, especially if others in the family have a peanut allergy.

US guidelines recommend that high risk infants are given 6g of peanut protein weekly to prevent peanut allergy from developing, but how closely families stick to these and guidelines and rates of new allergies are still being studied.

The new study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology included 277 infants aged 4 to 11 months who had not been exposed to peanut but were considered as high-risk of developing a peanut allergy. ‘High-risk’ was as having moderate to severe eczema, a diagnosis of another food allergy, or a first-degree relative with peanut allergy.

The families were recommended to introduce 6 g of peanut protein weekly, and were followed up for 30 months with two in-person visits and monthly questionnaires to see how closely they followed the guidelines, reasons for discontinuing, and rates of new peanut allergy. The results showed: 

  • 245 of the infants (88%) were still eating some peanut protein at the end of the study, averaging 3g per week
  • only six (2%) developed new peanut allergy
  • of those who stopped eating peanut protein, the most common reason was fear of a reaction in a family member – a quarter (25%) of those with a peanut-allergic sibling discontinued, compared to 14% of those without.

These results support the findings of other studies showing rates of allergy are low after regular introduction of peanut during infancy.

The researchers also found that while 59% of families considered peanut introduction to be “easy” or “very easy”, some found it “difficult” or “very difficult”, especially if they had another child with peanut allergy, showing the need for extra guidance and support.

Read more in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.