Evidence is accumulating that food allergies in children might be prevented by feeding peanuts and other allergenic food to infants in their first year of life, researchers reported here Friday.
That finding would challenge the recommendation of the World Health Organization that babies be fed exclusively breast milk for the first six months of life.
“At least as far as peanut is concerned, I would recommend parting from that,” Dr. Gideon Lack, professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London, said in an interview.
Dr. Lack was the senior author of a study last year that found feeding peanuts to young children starting when they are 4 to 11 months old sharply reduced the risk of their developing peanut allergies.
That upended the conventional wisdom that it is best to avoid introducing peanuts until children are older.
On Friday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped pay for that study, issued proposed new guidelinesrecommending that children at risk of peanut allergies be fed peanuts starting at 4 to 6 months of age, though they should be tested first to make sure they do not already have an allergy.
But that initial study also left ...