How to prevent cashew allergy: New findings from the HealthNuts Study

It was previously thought best to delay the introduction of key allergenic foods like peanut and egg at least until after a child’s first birthday. Evidence now suggests that introducing such foods in the first 6-12 months reduces allergy risk. Until now, there has not been any research into the impact of this timing on the risk of developing tree nut allergy in childhood.

HealthNuts is a population-based study of nearly 3,000 children in Australia. The study found that only 5 per cent of participating children had eaten cashew by age 12 months. No child who had consumed cashew by age 12 months developed cashew allergy at age 6 years, yet over 3 per cent of those who had not consumed cashew by age 12 months developed cashew allergy by the time they turned 6 years old.

These findings are only observational but indicate that introducing cashew in the first year of life may reduce the risk of cashew allergy similar to the effects seen with early introduction of peanut and egg. Randomised controlled trials on the impact of timing for the introduction of cashew are underway to confirm these initial findings.

Reference: Peters et al. 2020. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2020.07.003. The full publication is available online.