Exposing Infants to Peanuts Prevents Peanut Allergies

Peanut allergies can be severe, but preventing the sensitivity may be as simple as exposing your infant to peanuts while they are young.

Peanut allergies can be severe, but preventing the sensitivity may be as simple as exposing your infant to peanuts while they are young, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine


Based on observations that peanut allergies occurs less often in Israeli children than in Jewish children living in the UK, over 600 infants were selected by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The infants were aged four to six months and possessed severe eczema, egg allergies, or both. During the first five years of life, the infants were either fed approximately six grams of peanuts per week or avoided the food altogether.

At the end of five years, researchers measured which infants had developed a peanut allergy and which had not, finding that infants exposed to peanuts early in life had 81 percent fewer instances of peanut allergy.

The findings reverse earlier thoughts on how to prevent potentially dangerous allergies, said Daniel Rotrosen, MD, lead researcher and a director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease:

"Prior to 2008, clinical practice guidelines recommended avoidance of potentially allergenic foods in the diets of young children at heightened risk for development of food allergies. While recent studies showed no benefit from allergen avoidance, [ours] is the first to show that early introduction of dietary peanut is actually beneficial and identifies an effective approach to manage a serious public health problem."

The results of the study are consistent with thoughts offered by H. Robert Silverstein, medical director of The Preventive Medicine Center, a nonprofit organization that offers advice on living healthier. As Dr. Silverstein explained in his Big Think interview, lifestyle choices greatly influence whether genetic predispositions are expressed in adolescent and adult life:

"Everybody has a genetic predisposition to develop multiple disorders. But those disorders occur if and only if the person does what's necessary to express that weakness. ... Do what you’re supposed to, and then you’ll find out that you’ll avoid diseases, doctor visits, high co-pays, high health insurance, being rated by your insurance, having surgery, and so on and so on. So if you put the time in now, it’s sort of like an education. If you put the time in now, you get the benefit down the road."

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less