In just the last 10 years, there has been a threefold increase in peanut allergies in young children in the US and the UK.
In order to prevent the development of a peanut allergy, pediatricians and nutritionists often recommend parents avoid giving their children peanuts until they are older. But what if that’s the wrong advice?
Israel has provided the best indication of that; only 0.17% of children in Israel have peanut allergies, while in the US and the UK the number is 10 times higher. In Israel, there is no recommendation to avoid peanuts at a young age. In fact, one of the most popular snacks given to babies as young as 6 months is a peanut based puff called Bamba.
Researchers in the UK conducted an experiment (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) on 640 British infants, who were at high risk for developing a peanut allergy (they already had an egg allergy).
One group received a supply of Bamba, the other didn’t. Following up after 4 years, the rate of peanut allergies was 1.9% in the consumption group and a whopping 13.7% in the avoidance group.
Bottom line: Early introduction of peanuts may reduce, not increase, the risk of peanut allergies in children.