New Research Suggests Early Exposure to Allergens May Help

For many years, pediatricians have recommended delaying the feeding of potential allergens to toddlers. Mary Scott received this recommendation from her son Henry's pediatrician, and decided to wait a year before giving him peanut products. The very first time he tried peanut butter, he experienced an allergic reaction.

New research suggests that the development of food allergies in kids like Henry could actually be caused by the delayed introduction of potentially allergenic foods. A recent study showed that the risk of developing peanut allergies could be as much as 11 times higher for children who don't receive early exposure to peanut products. This finding could someday change pediatricians' recommendations; already some are recommending early introduction of potential allergens, rather than delayed introduction.

This revelation could not only lead to lower rates of food allergies among children, it could also lead to the development of new food allergy treatments. Allergist Dr. Henry Fishman explained to ABC 7 News “Theoretically, if preventing them by using peanuts helps, then maybe treating it by taking peanuts may help as well.” A brand-new therapy involves feeding trace amounts of peanuts to those with peanut allergies, in an effort to 'trick' the immune system into accepting the peanuts without causing an allergic reaction. This new therapy should only be attempted with a doctor's supervision, and is still in the testing phase.

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