Peanut Allergy Prevention
Allergy to peanuts quadrupled in the 13 years from 1997 to 2010 according to allergy experts at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Current peanut allergy estimates are .6 – 1.3% of the general population. Many schools no longer allow children to bring peanut containing foods including peanut butter to school any more. Methods to reduce this increasing allergy risk are being researched and developed.
Young children at high risk for peanut allergy were much less likely to develop the allergy if they were regularly exposed to peanuts early in life in recent research studies. “We now have an intervention that has been statistically significant to be highly efficacious and to have an 80% preventive effect,” said lead author George Du Toit. Another study observed that children living in the U.K., who rarely were given peanut products early in life, had 10 times the rate of peanut allergy than their Israeli counterparts, who begin eating peanuts at about 7 months of age.
The results of this recent information are “striking,” the researchers wrote, and “because the results of this trial are so compelling, and the problem of the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy so alarming,” new guidelines addressing the problem should be developed.
Du Toit agreed. “We would strongly encourage modification of current weaning recommendations,” he said in an interview. “Soon after weaning peanuts should be added to the diet,” he said.
The economic cost of children’s food allergies is nearly $25 billion per year. Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
Austin Family Medicine offers comprehensive food allergy testing through a simple blood test as well as other allergy testing and treatment for those with allergy problems. Contact our office for more information or an appointment.