The LEAP study team, led by Professor Gideon Lack, has evaluated strategies of peanut consumption and avoidance to determine the most effective strategy to prevent the development of peanut allergy in high risk infants.
Infants at high risk for peanut allergy include those with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both. The study recruited 640 infants who were at least 4 months but younger than 11 months of age and randomised them to consume or avoid peanuts until they reached 60 months of age.
Among the 530 infants in the group who initially had negative results on a skin-prick test, the prevalence of peanut allergy at 60 months of age was almost fourteen per cent in the avoidance group and close to 2 per cent in the consumption group.
Among the 98 participants in the group who initially had positive peanut allergy test results, the prevalence of peanut allergy by the end of the study period was 35 per cent in the avoidance group and 10 per cent in the consumption group.
Practically all (99 per cent) of participants in each group reported at least one allergic reaction, with more reactions recorded in the consumption group than in the avoidance group. However, regardless of the treatment they received, there was no significant between-group difference in the incidence of serious adverse events.
The authors conclude the early introduction of peanut in a child’s diet could serve as an effective strategy for the prevention of primary (for those who are not already sensitized to peanuts) and secondary (for those who are sensitized) peanut allergy.
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