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Allergy
First Years Dec 9, 2019
3 Minutes

Is early introduction a way to reduce allergies in kids?

You don’t need us, or a team of scientists to tell you that allergies in young kids are rapidly on the rise. All it takes is a bit of looking around to tell you that. Most nurseries and schools (plus many flights) will now ban common allergens like nuts. In fact according to data published by the New England Journal of Medicine peanut allergies among children in Western Countries have nearly doubled in the past ten years. Clearly this is not just a case of better diagnosis. However, the latest science is suggesting early introduction to common allergens may help. Here’s what you need to know:

What does the latest science suggest we can do when there is high allergy risk? 

We had previously written about benefits shown by research specifically looking at early introduction of allergens like peanut and egg  (vs elimination and avoidance) between 4-6 months old. Click here for more. 

The latest research from Kings College London published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests positive results in terms of prevention from introducing some common allergens to children at risk from developing allergies as early as 3 months old.

Always speak to your doctor first: 

It goes without saying (but we will say it anyway!) that you should ALWAYS speak to your doctor first and work out together the best protocol for introducing foods to a child who may be at risk of developing an allergy. Do this before you do anything else.

However, a recent systematic review of all published early intervention
trials undertaken to date did conclude that early egg or peanut
introduction to an at risk child was associated with lower risk of developing egg or peanut allergy. Click here for more. So, the idea of early introduction appears to be worth a discussion with your doctor.

What factors might mean your child is at risk of developing an allergy? 

The study by Kings focused on children who were at higher risk of developing an allergy. They focused on three factors based on research:

Although not included in the research, of course other factors include family history of allergies/food intolerances.

What did the research show in terms of allergy prevention? 

The trial was with 1300 infants. They did (understandably) have some challenges getting people to stick to the terms of the trial (quite hard to get a child of three months to eat egg/nuts!) however there were some very interesting results:

So, it does look as though babies at risk of developing an allergy did benefit from early introduction of allergenic solids.

What do the current allergy guidelines suggest? 

The current National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases guidelines propose introduction of peanut from around 6 months. So, once again, this is just for information purposes only to use as a discussion point for conversations with your doctor.

For more on allergies check out some of our ask the expert discussions with top US paediatrician Dr Mona Amin click here. Then here for discussions with leading pioneer on the microbiome and its role in autoimmunity Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride. 

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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