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Nutting allergies out

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Exposing babies to peanuts and eggs may head off a lifetime of unpleasant and potentially deadly allergies.

As researchers puzzle over the proliferation of food and other allergies in Western populations, a high-level analysis of results from 146 studies has found that parents could reduce the risk of allergic reactions in their child to eggs and peanuts later in life by introducing but foods at an early stage.

They found that children introduced to eggs at four to six months of age were less likely to develop an allergy, as were those exposed to peanuts between four and 11 months.

But this inuring effect did not necessarily apply to other foods and substances.

The researchers said there was low certainty that feeding fish to babies early on would result in “reduced allergic sensitisation and rhinitis”.

Similarly, “there was high-certainty evidence that timing of gluten introduction was not associated with celiac disease risk, and timing of allergenic food introduction was not associated with other outcomes”.

While the conclusions are based on the findings of a large number of studies, the researchers were cautious about drawing any definitive conclusions.

“Certainty of evidence was downgraded because of imprecision of effect estimates and indirectness of the populations and interventions studied,” they said. “Timing of egg or peanut introduction was not associated with risk of allergy to other foods.”

Adrian Rollins