There is new and exciting news in the world of peanut allergy! The findings from a landmark clinical trial, called the LEAP study, were published in 2015 and they have led to an update in the Guidelines for the Diagnosis & Management of Food Allergy in the United States.
The LEAP study stands for “Learning Early About Peanut Allergy”, and it was the first trial to study early allergen introduction as a preventative strategy. Over 600 infants considered to be at high risk for developing peanut allergy because they had severe eczema, egg allergy, or both were enrolled in the study. The researchers randomly divided the infants into two groups. One group was given peanut-containing foods to eat regularly, and the other group was told to avoid any peanut-containing foods until they were all 5 years of age. The findings of the LEAP study showed that the infants that regularly consumed peanut-containing foods reduced their risk of developing peanut allergy by 81%.
Due to the LEAP study findings, three new guidelines have just been published as an addendum to the aforementioned Food Allergy Guidelines. The guidelines divide infants into three categories:
- Infants with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both
- Infants with mild to moderate eczema
- Infants with no eczema or food allergy.
The Guidelines detail when and how to evaluate an infant for peanut allergy and how to introduce peanut into an infant’s diet. Parents should speak with a physician before introducing peanut protein into an infant’s diet.
Peanut allergy has been on the rise in the United States in recent years. It tends to develop in childhood and persist through adulthood. Having a peanut allergy requires constant vigilance and strict label-reading. Allergic reactions to peanut can be severe and potentially life-threatening. Prior recommendations for parents and pediatricians were to avoid introducing peanut into the diet until a child was 3 years of age.
The LEAP study demonstrated that early introduction of peanut can be effective prevention against the development of peanut allergy. At Allergy & Clinical Immunology, our staff can help parents navigate their way through these new guidelines.