Does Feeding Your Baby Peanuts Prevent Allergies?

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Many of us know someone with an allergy to a particular type of food. Some of the most common food allergies are wheat, shellfish, and peanuts. But why does this happen in the first place? And why do food allergies appear to be on the rise in the Western world?


Between 1997 and 2011, statistical records from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States show a 50 percent increase in cases of food allergies of all kinds. Food allergy levels among children in developing nations tend to be much lower. There are a number of possible explanations for this, but one theory pertains to the composition of gut bacteria in children of industrialized countries versus children in developing countries.

A study comparing the gut bacteria of children in Florence, Italy to that of children in a small village in the African country of Burkina Faso found that the African children had a higher degree of biodiversity in their gut bacteria.

There is also the issue of sanitization and germ phobia. Could it be that the high levels of sanitation in developed countries are too much of a good thing? Children in poorer countries naturally come into contact with more bacteria, and while this does result in more illness and death from diseases that are easily preventable in richer countries, it also produces some interesting beneficial results. Obesity, autoimmune disease, and yes, food allergies are much rarer among children in developing countries compared to children in wealthier ones.

Why giving allergenic foods to children may actually help them?

So, what is the solution here? For reasons no one seems to fully understand, allergies are on the rise, and there doesn’t appear to be much of anything parents can do about it.

Or is there? New research shows that offering young children foods associated with allergies, including peanuts, may actually prevent them from developing food allergies later in life.

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