Study suggests babies who eat peanut less likely to develop allergy

A new study suggests children who don't eat peanut before their first birthday are more likely to be allergic to peanut at age three.

Researchers say these babies were more than four times as likely to have a clinical allergy to peanut by age three than those who did eat peanut in the first 12 months of life.

The data involved more than 2,600 Canadian children enrolled in a long-running study that is investigating the root causes of an array of chronic diseases including asthma, allergies and obesity.

None of the infants introduced to peanut before six months of age were sensitized to peanut at age three.

Lead researcher Elinor Simons says from Winnipeg that the findings suggest that even babies at low-risk of developing an allergy should consume peanut early.

Simons notes that other well-known studies have focused on the importance of introducing peanut to babies at high-risk of developing an allergy.

The findings from the CHILD Cohort Study were published online Thursday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

The study also found that children who did not have peanut introduced into their diet by age 18 months were more than seven times more likely to be sensitized to peanut compared to those who started eating peanut before nine months of age.

"This tells us that if peanut is not introduced before the age of 12 months, it should still be introduced as soon as possible," Simons, a pediatric allergist at the Children's Hospital of Manitoba, said Thursday in a release.

"This study's findings should reassure parents, caregivers and health-care professionals about the benefits of early peanut introduction for all children."

The Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Cohort Study is tracking nearly 3,500 Canadian infants and their families to help determine the root causes of several chronic diseases. It spans four provinces, involving more than 140 multidisciplinary researchers, students and research staff.


Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press