Allergies could fall 77% if babies ate peanut butter while being weaned

Now here’s an interesting one, even more so because it’s counter-intuitive. If you don’t want your child to have a ­peanut allergy, or indeed any allergy, give them all the common allergic foods as a baby. So that means they eat strawberries, cheese, fish, egg, milk, sesame seeds and nuts, including ­peanuts, before they’re one year old.

Most parents would shrink from testing this out but I assure you it’s the smartest way to reduce their risk.

And don’t forget most African babies are weaned on peanuts and there’s precious little peanut allergy there.

Peanut allergy could plummet here by 77% if peanut products were added to all babies’ diets when they are being weaned, researchers have trumpeted.

This is important as peanut allergy now affects around one in 50 children in the UK.

Previous research led by Professor Gideon Lack, the UK allergy king from King’s College London, shows eating peanut products from an early age can reduce the risk of allergy if we take advantage of a clear “window of opportunity” – between four and six months, depending on a child’s health.

The new analysis was led by Professor Graham Roberts from Southampton University, alongside Professor Lack and the National ­Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US.

Most peanut allergies have already developed by the time a child turns one and it’s more common in those with severe eczema and egg allergy. Children of non-white ethnicity are also more prone.

The latest study, including children at high and low risk of developing peanut allergy, used data from the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) and Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trials, both led by Professor Lack.

Even for babies with eczema, four months is recommended, with smooth peanut butter or other peanut snacks suitable – not whole or broken peanuts – and the baby should be ready to start on solids.

Scientists say to breastfeed for the first six months, introducing peanuts from four to six months. Doing this could cut peanut allergy by up to 77%, while waiting until 12 months of age would result in only a 33% reduction.

Professor Roberts, of Southampton University, said: “Over several decades, the deliberate avoidance of peanut has understandably led to parental fear of early introduction.

“This latest evidence shows that applying simple, low-cost, safe interventions to the whole population could be an effective preventive public health strategy that would deliver vast benefits for future generations.”