Exposing infants to peanuts could prevent allergy

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX ---  For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Doctors found that exposing infants like these to peanuts before their first birthday actually helped prevent a peanut allergy. The early exposure seemed to help build tolerance.

The study found infants exposed to peanuts were 81 percent less likely to develop the allergy.

The research involving more than 600 babies is the largest and most rigorous test of this concept. They were checked first to make sure they didn't already have a peanut allergy. So parents of babies should not try this on their own.

"If you have a kid who's allergic to trees and grass, it's probably because they didn't play enough outside. Mother are being overprotective these days," Dr. Jeanine Hinds told 3TV.  She works at the John C. Lincoln Arcadia Family Clinic.

"The whole problem with allergies is that the kid's system doesn't recognize it as normal. So if we introduce things in smaller amounts, the kid's system will grow to like it," Dr. Hinds said

For infants with no aversions to food, or those who have had blood tests clearing them of peanut allergies, Dr. Hinds suggests a teaspoon of peanut butter a couple times a week.

Study results were in the New England Journal of Medicine.