Exposure to peanuts as a baby could help in reducing the risk of having an allergy to the legume later in life, new research suggests.
The risk of developing a peanut allergy can be decreased by as much as 80 percent, according to a study by researchers at The King’s College London and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
For the study, researchers assessed 628 infants, some as young as four months old. Half of the study participants were given a peanut-based snack while the other half avoided peanuts.
They found that while around 14 out of every 100 children would normally develop a peanut allergy by the age of five, that number fell to just two out of every 100 children with exposure to peanuts, a decrease by 86 percent.
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance. The body produces antibodies which protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause infection. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction can inflame your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.
The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While most allergies can’t be cured, a number of treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.