A study released today in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that giving infants small amounts of peanut butter in their first year of life substantially reduced the prevalence of peanut allergy when compared to infants who avoided peanuts for their first year. The investigators found that the safeguard lasted for a year after the children stopped consuming peanut protein.
Overall, after the introduction of peanuts in the first year of life, peanut consumption for the following 4 years, and a year of abstinence from peanuts, the peanut-consumption group had a prevalence of peanut allergy that was 74% lower than the prevalence in the peanut-avoidance group, a finding that shows unresponsiveness to peanut after a long period (12 months) of peanut avoidance.
In a second study also released today in the same journal, the investigators tried to repeat those findings with other foods that commonly lead to allergies in children, including milk, eggs, fish, wheat and sesame. They again showed that the approach might work, but because so few families stuck to the difficult feeding regimen, the outcome was not conclusive