A new study provides further evidence that babies at high risk for peanut allergies should eat them—not avoid them. 

By F&W Editors
Updated May 24, 2017
Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut butter: The source of much controversy at elementary schools all across America.

In recent years, amid increased instances of peanut allergies among children, the humble nut has becoming increasingly controversial—so much so that some schools have banned peanuts outright. But a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine adds to mounting evidence suggesting that exposure to peanuts at an early age can actually prevent peanut allergies in high-risk children.

The new report builds on findings from a previous study, published in NEJM last year, which showed that early introduction of peanuts "significantly decreased the frequency of the development of peanut allergy" among kids who are at high-risk for it. The more recent study is a follow-up, in which participants avoided peanuts for 12 months and then tried them again to see if the reduced allergy levels stayed consistent. For the most part, they did.

"Among children at high risk for allergy in whom peanuts had been introduced in the first year of life and continued until 5 years of age, a 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with an increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy," according to the study.

According to the Atlantic, there are additional health benefits to exposing children to peanuts: "The kids who avoided peanuts until they were 5 years old were more likely to report having had other problems like eczema, lower respiratory tract infections, near-sightedness, and stomach bugs like gastroenteritis."

As researchers develop a new set of formal guidelines for parents regarding the whole peanut issue, the interim guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests health care providers "recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of high-risk infants between ages 4 and 11 months." But it also notes that, because some infants may already be peanut-allergic, some might benefit from an evaluation from an allergist.

Need inspiration for more peanut-centric recipes? Check out some of our favorites here.