The prevalence of peanut allergy is on the rise in many Western countries, including the US and the UK. This has led to the recommendation that parents delay introducing peanut into the diet. As I touched on in one of my earlier posts, there really hasn’t been any evidence to support this recommendation. Now, a new study out of Britain suggests this may be the wrong thing to do.
The study sent a detailed food questionnaire to thousands of Jewish families in the UK and Israel. In this way the study authors automatically controlled for genetic and socioeconomic differences. The rate of peanut allergy is almost tenfold lower in Israel, .17% vs. 1.8%. The only difference the study authors found was that Israeli children ate peanut much earlier than their British counterparts. Nearly 100% of Israeli kids had eaten peanut by age 12 months as compared to around 25% of the Brits.
This was a very well done study, but it is still only a population study. Prospective controlled trial are needed now to sort out this issue. If a simple recommendation could potentially lead to a 90% reduction in peanut allergy rate, it should be a top priority.