Dec 2, 2008 4:17 pm US/Eastern

New Study Disputes View On Peanut Allergy

Source of Article:

Kellye Lynn

BALTIMORE (WJZ) ― Peanut allergies are on the rise with more than a million Americans affected.  Healthwatch reporter Kellye Lynn says a new study contradicts a commonly held view about preventing the dangerous allergies.

This research indicates that early consumption of nuts could help cut the risk of peanut allergy.

Ten-year-old Aaron Magaziner knows how to react when his body reacts to peanuts.  His epinephrine pen goes everywhere Aaron does.  It's been a way of life since his mom found out he was allergic at the age of three.

"When I tried to give him peanuts, he would just pull away from it like it was poison, like it hurt him almost," said his mom, Miriam Magaziner.

Peanuts are the most common cause of fatal food reactions, which kill about 150 people per year.

Doctors often urge pregnant women to avoid peanuts to reduce the risk of allergy in their offspring.  Now new research could change opinions, says food allergy expert Dr. Robert Wood of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

"It turns out the best way to make someone not allergic is to give them very low doses of exposure very early in life," said Dr. Wood.

The researchers compared children in the UK and Israel and found those who avoided peanuts in infancy and early childhood were ten times more likely to be allergic to peanuts than those who were exposed to the food.

Still, in some cases, avoidance is effective.  Aaron's mother intentionally kept her youngest son, Justin, away from certain foods early in life.

"He didn't get soy protein until he was six months.  He didn't get milk products until he was a year and he turned out to have no allergies," she said.

Dr. Wood says another study will soon be released that shows that greatest risk of developing peanut allergy is the amount of peanuts consumed by a mother during pregnancy.  That study could be released in six to nine months.


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