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Parents Advised To Introduce Peanuts, Other Allergenic Foods Early To Prevent Serious Allergy

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A new study advised parents to introduce allergenic foods like peanuts early into children's diet to prevent future severe allergies.

In a review of related evidence published in the Canadian Medical Association journal (CMAJ), findings showed that introducing children to foods that typically cause allergic reactions like eggs and peanuts when they are four to six months old give them higher chances of avoiding a food allergy later in life.

This advice, authors noted, is contrary to the decades old belief of immunologists who advised parents to not include these foods in their children's diet until they are older.

"If parents ask how to prevent allergy in their children, our current advice is to introduce the allergenic foods at four to six months of age," the authors wrote in their study, citing that early and regular exposure to these allergens are important in building tolerance for them.

One of the researches to challenge conventional wisdom when it came to allergies was the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) study. Researchers of the LEAP study found that introducing peanuts early to children reduced chances of having allergy to the nuts by about 80 percent.

"We now think that you can actually become allergic through your skin, specifically broken skin such as in children with eczema, if they're exposed to these foods in the environment and not already eating them," said Dr. Elissa Abrams of the Department of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Manitoba who co-authored the study.

Though no studies were yet able to prove that the same effect can be observed among children fed eggs and other allergenic foods early, concerned organizations like the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology are now recommending that children be introduced to peanuts between four to 11 months old.

The review also debunked the belief that mothers should also avoid allergy causing foods. Abrams said because some of the studies in their review found that mothers who avoid these foods increase the risk of their children having allergies as well as premature births.

The authors concluded their review saying that new evidences strongly support the idea that introducing allergenic foods early may be more effective in preventing food allergies.

It is yet to be seen, though, what impact these findings may have on immunology and future research.

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