According to a November report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, peanut allergy affects an estimated 3 million Americans. And, it is one of the most common triggers of anaphylaxis, which is a potentially life-threatening reaction. The incidence of peanut allergy has been on the rise in the United States, doubling in the five-year period from 1997-2002.
Now, new research from that same journal casts doubts on current government health recommendations. These potentially harmful government suggestions recommend that pregnant moms and infants avoid peanuts to prevent development of food allergy.
The study shows that children who avoided peanuts in infancy and early childhood were 10 times as likely to develop peanut allergy as those who were exposed to peanut.
Researchers measured the incidence of peanut allergy in 8,600 Jewish school-age children in the United Kingdom and Israel. They compared these results with data on peanut consumption collected from mothers of infants age 4 to 24 months. At 9 months of age, 69 percent of Israeli children were eating peanut, compared to 10 percent of those in the U.K.
Dietary guidelines in the United Kingdom, Australia (and – until earlier this year – the United States) advise avoidance of peanut consumption during pregnancy, breastfeeding and infancy. Researchers suggest these recommendations could be behind the increase in peanut allergy in these countries.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) cautions that although the results are promising, they shouldn’t translate to changes in treatment just yet. They advise you to check with your family doctor or allergist.