Early weaning tied to lower peanut allergy risk in allergic families

Researchers led by Christine Joseph, an epidemiologist at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, have found that in families with a history of allergic disease, weaning infants before the age of four months may allay the development of peanut allergy.

Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study, which adds to the long list of reports to confuse parents on the issue of peanut allergy, examined the relationship between the introduction of food to infants under four months old to egg, peanut and milk allergen.

Mothers were interviewed about feeding practices when their babies were one month, six months and twelve months old, and blood samples were collected at ages two and three years. Analysis revealed that early feeding reduced the risk of peanut sensitisation among children whose parents had a history of allergies or asthma. Joseph offered the explanation that for infants with a genetic susceptibility to allergies, earlier introduction to a broad range of foods could be the kick-start the immune system cells in the gut needed to mature.

Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

First published in May 2011

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