London - Babies at risk of an allergy to peanuts can slash their chances of developing the condition - by eating peanuts.
A study found that babies who ate just 2g of peanut butter three times a week were more than 80% less likely to develop a peanut allergy after five years than those who avoided it completely. All the infants in the study were deemed to be at risk of a peanut allergy because they already had an egg allergy or eczema.
The research, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, aims to help parents who are confused about whether to feed their babies peanuts. Babies with no or mild eczema are at a low risk of having a peanut allergy and can be introduced to peanuts at home, the researchers said. But infants with severe eczema, an egg allergy or both should be seen by a specialist first.
Study co-author Dr George du Toit, of the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, said: "No matter how you look at it statistically, this is extremely significant and achieved through the relatively simple intervention of eating peanuts."
Sarah Coe, from the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "If there is a history of food allergies or eczema in the infant or immediate family members, parents should seek advice from a GP or health visitor before giving their child peanuts."