Preventing Peanut Allergies

When Mark Drew painted Peanuts comic-strip characters mouthing rap lyrics by Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G. and others, some folks thought it made the Peanuts too menacing. (Picture Lucy saying, "My posse is always ready, and they're waiting in my zone.")

Now there's a plan for how to make real peanuts less menacing: A new study found that the best way to PREVENT potentially life-threatening peanut allergy is to let infants and young kids under age 5 have a little bit of the pure legume and its proteins (the allergic part) as part of their regular diet.

The researchers followed two groups of infants at high risk for developing peanut allergy; they had severe eczema, egg allergy or both. The 4- to 11-month-old children who were fed peanuts had an 81 percent reduction in the incidence of peanut allergy (13.7 percent of kids in the "no-peanuts-for-you" group developed the allergy; only 1.9 percent of the kids who ate peanuts did). It makes you wonder if AVOIDING peanuts is what has caused the number of kids with peanut allergies to double in the past decade!

So what does this mean to parents? Researchers excluded kids (through a scratch test) who might already be allergic to peanuts, and you should do the same. If everything checks out, talk with your doctor about following the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation: "Highly allergenic foods can be started in small doses at home once other foods such as grains and vegetables are tolerated." Then, avoid peanut products loaded with sugar and emulsifiers. Opt for the pure stuff!

© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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