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Peanuts key to avoid future peanut allergy, study shows

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Posted at 9:42 PM, Feb 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-24 23:42:09-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- We’ve all heard for years that kids should not have peanuts until they’re a few years old to prevent the development of peanut allergies.

That theory has been debunked.

New study findings show it’s better to give kids peanuts when they’re just a few months old.

The Learning Early About Peanut Allergy study was done over a five-year period with 600 children between the ages of 4 to 11 months old.

The babies were considered at high risk for developing a peanut allergy. These kids had eczema or another food allergy.

They were given a controlled amount of peanut butter three times a week. The study results showed an 80 percent reduction in their development of peanut allergies.

Dr. Rafael Firszt is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Utah.

“This is a primary prevention study meaning that we are intervening to prevent the disease from happening in the first place,” Firszt said.

Firszt said peanut allergy is the leading cause of fatal reactions in anaphylaxis. He hopes these findings will lead to the end of the peanut allergy epidemic.

“You’re building the right immune response and not an overactive immune response to the peanut protein,” Firszt said.

Michelle Fogg is the president of the Utah Food Allergy Network and has two kids with peanut allergies. She told FOX 13 the study is welcomed news for many parents.

“I think this is really, really good news that there may be something we can actually do, actively do to help our children have less and to halt this epidemic of peanut allergy,” Fogg said.

Katie Zastrow’s daughter has a food allergy, but no reactions to peanuts. She thinks it may be because of the early exposure.

“She didn’t blow up into oblivion, she didn’t puff up, no reaction so I just thought, ‘Why are we keeping this from her if there’s no reaction?’” Zastrow said.

Health experts reiterate, however, that once someone is diagnosed with a peanut allergy, it can’t be reversed.

They say people with peanut allergies need to continue to be vigilant about their exposure and continue to have an epi pen with them in case of a reaction.