Introducing peanut products into the diets of infants at high risk of developing peanut allergy was safe and led to an 81% reduction in the subsequent allergy development, reports a new study. The research has been published online in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the 2015 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) Annual Meeting in Houston, TX.

The Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study sought to compare consumption and avoidance of dietary peanut in infants who were at high risk of developing peanut allergy due to an existing egg allergy and/or severe eczema. Over 600 high-risk infants between 4–11 months of age were randomly assigned to avoid peanut entirely or to regularly include at least 6g of peanut protein per week in their diets; the avoidance and consumption regimens were continued until the child reached 5 years of age, at which peanut allergy was assessed with a supervised, oral food challenge with peanut. All participants were monitored throughout the study with recurring visits with healthcare professionals and telephone-based dietary surveys.

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Overall, the children in the early, continuous consumption of peanut group had an 81% reduction in peanut allergy at 5 years of age vs. those who avoided peanut entirely. A follow-up study require all LEAP study participants to avoid peanut consumption for one year to evaluate if continuous peanut consumption is required to maintain a child’s tolerance to peanut.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and was conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network (ITN).

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