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Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy

Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy

A new study led by King's College London has stated that peanut allergy in kids can be stopped if they are introduced to peanuts at an early age even if they stop eating peanut around the age of five.

Published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the LEAP-On study followed on from the LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) study, both led by Professor Gideon Lack at King's, which found that the majority of infants at high-risk of developing peanut allergy are protected from peanut allergy at age 5 years if they eat peanut frequently, starting within the first 11 months of life.

The LEAP-On study was undertaken at Evelina London Children's Hospital, and enrolled 556 participants from LEAP (out of a total of 628), of whom 550 had a complete primary outcome. All participants were instructed to avoid peanut for 12 months after they had completed the LEAP study, regardless of whether they had been randomized to avoid or eat peanut in the LEAP study.

Of the 550 LEAP-On participants, 280 had been randomized to peanut avoidance and 270 to peanut consumption on the LEAP Study; adherence to these interventions was high at 92%. All participants were asked to avoid peanut during LEAP-On and adherence during this study was also high: 90.4% for previous LEAP avoiders and 69.3% for previous LEAP consumers.

The study found that at 6 years of age, there was no statistically significant increase in allergy after 12 months of avoidance, in those who had consumed peanut during the LEAP trial (3.6% (10/274) at 60 months versus 4.8% (13/270) at 72 months).

The authors therefore concluded that in infants at high-risk for allergy in whom peanut was introduced in the first year of life, and continued until age 5, a 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with a significant increase in peanut allergy. Overall, the study saw a 74% relative reduction in the prevalence of peanut allergy in those who consumed peanut compared to those who avoided.

The authors caution that the LEAP study design did not allow a determination of the minimum frequency or amount of peanut consumption required in early childhood to prevent an allergic response to peanut. Further studies are planned to establish whether the effects of early-life peanut consumption followed by ad-lib consumption of peanut over many years maintains this protection against allergy.

Lack said, The aim of our study was to find out whether infants who had consumed peanut in the LEAP study would remain protected against peanut allergy after they stopped eating peanut for 12 months. LEAP-On clearly demonstrates that the majority of infants did in fact remain protected and that the protection was long-lasting.

Dr George Du Toit, consultant in Paediatric Allergy at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Reader in Paediatric Allergy, King's College London, co-investigator of the study, said, We need more research to better understand the mechanisms behind the development and prevention of allergic responses to peanut, and how this might translate to other food allergies. However, it is reassuring that the highly protective intervention demonstrated in LEAP was not only safe, nutritionally favorable and acceptable to participant families but also sustained even with cessation of peanut consumption for 12 months.

 

Eating peanut in early years helps reduce risk of allergy