HLN: You may have heard about a new school of thought about preventing peanut allergies in children. Researchers say giving peanut products to infants as young as four months appears to reduce their risk of developing peanut allergies. Dr. Thomas Chacko is an allergist here in Atlanta. So, Dr. Thomas Chacko, this is very dramatic in terms of what doctors were telling patients in the past to stay away from peanuts all together until a child is what, one?
Dr. Chacko: The previous recommendation would be to hold peanuts until about three. And so now the current study and this was done for years, decades actually, even with my child who was born in ‘07, we would hold back the peanut until after two or three. Most recently though a recent study called the Leap Study, had shown that, they took people with high risk of peanut allergy (meaning people with eczema or egg allergy) and they gave a bunch of children infants ages four months to 11 months, and they gave one group peanut protein. The other group no peanut protein. And they follow them for months to years and then they found out that people who got the peanut protein early actually had less allergy. So the take home was that it was better to give the peanut early than to avoid it.
HLN: What about pregnant women, that has changed as well? It used to be when your wife was pregnant you were saying.. doctors were saying stay away.
Dr. Chacko: Yeah, so when my wife was pregnant with my first I told her no peanuts, no treatments, no shellfish, and then with our second and third the data changed and now it actually looks like giving it early may actually be helpful. So for pregnant women I say just eat what you want to eat don’t avoid any of that.
HLN: And talk about peanut desensitization, what is that? Kids who are already allergic to peanuts they’re exposed to it in a controlled area?
Dr. Chacko: Yes. So there’s a newer treatment it’s technically called oral immunotherapy or peanut allergy desensitization. What it is is an allergist will give you small amounts of peanut protein and flour and then eventually give you full peanuts. It’s a way to help people who are already peanut allergic to become desensitized.
HLN: But you have to do it obviously in a controlled area.
Dr. Chacko: No. It’s supposed to be done by an allergist and there’s still is some controversy and pros and cons so I would discuss that with your allergist as a potential option for peanut allergies.