CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new landmark study in London is changing the way doctors and parents look at introducing high risk babies to peanuts.
Dr. Brian Vickery is an associate professor of pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine. He was actually at the recent seminar where the latest findings concerning peanut allergies and infants were presented.
"Really, my jaw dropped to be honest with you," said Vickery.
Basically, the study took 640 high risk infants (those who showed mild signs of a peanut allergy) who were between 4 and 11-months-old and split them into two groups. One group was given the equivalent of four heaping teaspoons of peanut butter a week. The other group avoided peanuts altogether. They were followed for several years then tested at the age of five. The findings were astounding.
"The study showed that the group that was randomly assigned to start eating peanut when they were young babies had an 80 percent reduction in peanut allergy compared to the group that continued to avoid," said Vickery.
This goes against the previous school of thought that prompted doctors, including Vickery, to recommend that high risk infants avoid certain allergenic foods such as milk, eggs, and all nuts until later in life. Those guidelines were actually retracted in 2008, but this latest study takes this a step further to actually suggest it's advisable to introduce allergic foods early.
"This study is the first to provide very conclusive evidence that early introduction may be best, but the results are going to need to be individualized to the patient," said Vickery.
Which means it's still not for every child, so talk to your pediatrician first.
Meanwhile, Vickery is part of an exciting study being conducted at UNC right now that's actually looking at reintroducing peanuts back into the diets of older children who've been diagnosed with peanut allergies.
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