Infants’ diets should include eggs and peanuts within their first year of life to help prevent allergies, according to new Australasian guidelines.
Published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, the new guidelines from the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy suggest introducing eggs and peanuts to infants’ diets from about six months of age (but not before four months).
Dr Preeti Joshi, chair of the society’s paediatric committee, said that food allergies had been increasing in incidence worldwide. The recommendation to introduce eggs and peanuts earlier was based on results from the LEAP study, which randomised 640 children between 4 and 11 months to either consume or avoid foods containing peanuts until they were five years old. At that point, the children were tested for peanut allergies and the prevalence was higher in the avoidance group (13.7 per cent) compared to the group that ate peanuts (1.9 per cent).
University of Otago’s Professor Julian Crane told Stuff he supported the recommendation. “The theory behind it is that the infant would be exposed to unbelievably small amounts of allergens and that’s thought to be enough to set the immune system up.”
“It’s the exact same process to desensitisation so if someone is sensitive to allergens you can desensitise them by giving them gradually increasing doses until their immune system becomes tolerant.”
The guidelines were covered by local media, including:
Stuff: Give infants eggs and nuts to help stop allergies, study finds
RNZ: Allergy prevention guidelines: eggs, peanuts for infants
Newshub: Give babies peanuts and they won’t become allergic, doctors say
TVNZ: Feed peanuts and eggs to infants and help prevent allergies, new study suggests
NZDoctor: Introduce egg and peanut early to avoid allergies