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New study says giving babies food with peanuts may prevent allergy later in life

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new study suggests that feeding your baby peanut-type food, like peanut butter mixed with water, at only 4-6 months old is likely to prevent them from developing a peanut allergy later in life.

The study is from the National Institute of Health and was published Thursday.

A clinical study in London looked at 640 infants prone to developing a severe peanut allergy. They were consistently fed a peanut butter form starting at 4-6 months old, and the study found that the process lowered their risk of developing the peanut allergy by 81 percent.

“Infants typically, even if they are allergic to a food, they are not the ones who have a life-threatening reaction,” said Dr. Aaron Kobernik, a physician specializing in allergies at University of Utah. “Prior to this study, the guidance in the past has been to avoid, if you are pregnant or have a baby, in the past people have told you to not introduce peanut right away.”

Dr. Kobernik said the study's findings will be tough initially for parents who are afraid to start feeding peanuts to their children, especially when they might have other children who already have peanut allergies.

“The more a child tolerates peanut, the more a child eats the peanut and it becomes a regular part of their diet, the safer we can say that child is from developing a food allergy," Kobernik said.

Click here for more on the study from the NIH, and click here for peanut allergy prevention guidelines, and here for guidelines for diagnosing and managing food allergies.