A new study from The New England Journal of Medicine came up with some pretty interesting findings about peanut allergies. For a long time, conventional wisdom has suggested that keeping children away from peanuts would prevent them from developing a peanut allergy. But, in fact, the key may be to do the exact opposite.
According to this new study, children who are exposed to peanuts in their first years of life actually show a much lower tendency to develop a peanut allergy later in life. And, in countries where parenting culture is generally a bit more cautious, the amount of individuals with peanut allergies has skyrocketed.
Dr. Gideon Lack, who led the study, said he first noticed a possible correlation when he spoke to Israeli parents about peanut allergies. When he asked the audience how many of their children were allergic to them, barely anyone raised their hand. This was in stark contrast to other places, like the U.K. and U.S., where multiple parents would have responded. After doing a survey, he found many Israeli parents exposed their children to peanut products early, specifically Bamba–which is made of peanut butter and puffed corn. This led him to initiate the study.
As always with science, it’s important to take these results with a grain of salt, but the correlation presented in this study is strong, and may be the key to understanding why we develop peanut allergies (or any allergies at all) and what we can do to avoid them.