A team of researchers from New England have found that attempting to protect young children from developing potential allergies may end up hurting them more them helping them.
In fact, the experts recommend that we expose children to foods that can cause allergies from early on. Gideon Lack, lead author, and his team explain that “Our findings showed that early, sustained consumption of peanut products was associated with a substantial and significant decrease in the development of peanut allergy in high-risk infants”.
The paper, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, goes on to inform that the reverse holds true as well. Subjects who avoided peanuts had a much better chance of developing clinical peanut allergy, and were frequently linked to it. To be precise, they had 86.1 percent (86.1%) more of a chance of developing peanut allergy than those who ate peanuts from a young age.
The subjects who ate peanuts had them introduced in their diets when they were only four (4) months old and consumed them steadily throughout the study, which lasted 60 months.
It’s an important finding as there have been other similar studies conducted in recent years, all of them helping healthcare workers gain a better understanding of how allergies develop and informing them on how to design better treatments and prevention plans.
One of the main mentalities that are changing is that allergy experts have now stopped telling a patient’s parent not to feed certain foods before they reach a certain age.
Dr. Adelle Atkinson, immunologist over at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, gave a statement saying that she remembers how there was a time when experts would tell the parents of a child with a high risk of developing allergies to only feed them eggs after the age on one (1), fish after the age of two (2) and peanuts after the age of three (3).
Such an approach caused them to delay introducing solid food in an infant’s diet because they used to believe that it would help prevent unwanted instances of allergies.
Now, these recent studies have proven that this archaic approach is wrong, and even offered up a possible explanation for why the number of children with food allergies has kept increasing these past few decades.
Dr. Atkinson stresses that things are finally changing for the better. Right now, allergy experts in Canada are actively working on updating their guidelines on how to prevent and treat allergies in children.