Allergy to come under scrutiny

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Researchers are attempting to discover how being exposed to peanuts in infancy, or avoiding them, affects a child's risk of developing a peanut allergy. Scientists from King's College London, launching the Learning Early About Peanut allergies (LEAP) study, have begun a two-year recruitment drive to find 480 children aged between four and 11 months who are already suffering from eczema or egg allergy. These children have a higher risk of developing peanut allergy.

Researchers are attempting to discover how being exposed to peanuts in infancy, or avoiding them, affects a child's risk of developing a peanut allergy.

Scientists from King's College London, launching the Learning Early About Peanut allergies (LEAP) study, have begun a two-year recruitment drive to find 480 children aged between four and 11 months who are already suffering from eczema or egg allergy. These children have a higher risk of developing peanut allergy.

Research suggests that one in 70 primary school-age children in the UK has a peanut allergy and this figure has doubled in the past decade. Current guidelines recommend that mothers avoid peanuts during pregnancy and breast feeding, and they should not be given to children under three.

Professor Gideon Lack, who will be leading the study, said, 'In some countries we have found an inverse association between consumption of peanuts in the first year of life and the development of peanut allergy.

Recent evidence suggests that children who eat peanut snacks early in life may in fact be protected against peanut allergy, in contrast with previous studies which have suggested the opposite.'

The children will be divided randomly into two groups. One group will be fed a peanut snack regularly from four months old until three years old, while the other will eat no peanut products at all. All the children will be tested for peanut allergy at five years.

Professionals or parents interested in the study should contact the LEAP Study Team at Evelina Children's Hospital, St Thomas's Hospital, London on 020 7188 9784 or e-mail info@leapstudy.co.uk.

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