Monday, January 22, 2018
Health

Peanuts for babies? Studies back allergy-preventing strategy

CHICAGO — Two new studies bolster evidence that feeding babies peanuts or other allergy-inducing foods is more likely to protect them than to cause problems.

One study, a follow-up to landmark research published last year, suggests that the early prevention strategy leads to persistent, long-lasting results in children at risk for food allergies. It found that allergy protection lasted at least through age 5 and didn't wane even when kids stopped eating peanut-containing foods for a year.

That means at-risk kids who don't want to eat peanut butter on a weekly basis can take safely take a break, at least for a year.

The second new study suggests that the early strategy could also work with eggs, another food that can cause allergies in young children. It found that allergies to peanuts and eggs were less common in young children who started eating those foods at 3 months of age than in kids who as infants received only breast milk.

The New England Journal of Medicine published both new studies online Friday, coinciding with their presentation at a medical meeting in Los Angeles.

Food allergies are common, potentially serious and sometimes deadly. They're becoming more prevalent in children in many countries, affecting up to 8 percent of kids under age 3. About 2 percent of U.S. kids have peanut allergies.

The results from last year's study prompted a sea change in experts' approach to preventing these allergies. It was the first "to show that early introduction of peanut can prevent the development of allergy to it," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.

It also led to new draft guidance issued Friday by a panel convened by Fauci's agency. The recommendations include giving at-risk kids peanut-containing food as early as 4- to 6-months of age. Infants at risk are those with severe skin rashes or egg allergies; allergy tests are recommended beforehand.

The agency paid for last year's study and follow-up, and will issue final guidelines after a 45-day comment period. The draft guidance echoes advice issued last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups in response to the ground-breaking study.

That study involved more than 600 at-risk British infants. By age 5, peanut allergies were much less common in children who had started eating peanut-based foods before age 1, usually peanut butter or a peanut-based snack, than among children who'd been told to abstain.

The follow-up involved most of those children. After a year off, an additional three kids in both groups tested positive for peanut allergies. The allergies remained much less common in the early peanut eaters — affecting just under 5 percent of those kids versus almost 19 percent of the others.

The new results suggest that early introduction of allergy-inducing foods results in "true tolerance" in at-risk kids, said Dr. Stacy Dorris, an allergist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She was not involved in the research.

The second study involved 1,300 study breast-fed British children randomly assigned to get several types of allergy-inducing foods or just breast milk.

The strongest results were with peanut-based food and eggs but there was one hitch. About 60 percent of the early eaters didn't stick to the program. Some may have had immature swallowing skills; some doctors don't recommend starting solid foods until around 4 months of age. But it's possible some parents stopped giving solid foods because they noticed allergy-like symptoms, which may have included false alarms, said Dr. Gideon Lack, a King's College London researcher who led all three studies.

The results suggest feeding these foods to at-risk infants is safe, but often not feasible in infants so young, said Dr. Gary Wong, a Hong Kong pediatrician. He wrote an editorial published online with the new studies.

Still, Wong said the new studies confirm that the old approach to preventing food allergies — avoiding certain foods early in life — is probably obsolete.

"Evidence is really building up. It appears early introduction would be better off than avoidance," said Wong, who is also an associate editor at the journal.

Comments
Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems

Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems

Charles Lee had been dealing with an excruciating toothache for days. The pain made it hard to eat or sleep or focus on work. But Lee, 54, didnít have dental insurance. His job as a delivery truck driver offered only a supplemental policy that was to...
Published: 01/22/18
When you need a breast screening, should you get a 3-D mammogram?

When you need a breast screening, should you get a 3-D mammogram?

When I went to the imaging center for my regular mammogram last year, the woman behind the desk asked me if Iíd like to get a "3-D" mammogram instead of the standard test Iíd had in the past."Itís more accurate," she said.What do you say to that? "No...
Published: 01/22/18
Expect some pain. Thatís what hospitals are starting to tell patients as concern spreads over opioids

Expect some pain. Thatís what hospitals are starting to tell patients as concern spreads over opioids

Doctors at some of the largest U.S. hospital chains admit they went overboard with opioids to make people as pain-free as possible, and now they shoulder part of the blame for the nationís opioid crisis. In an effort to be part of the cure, theyíve b...
Published: 01/19/18
Itís flu season, and how: Hereís what you need to know

Itís flu season, and how: Hereís what you need to know

Cristi Fryberger, a fifth-grade teacher, was headed back for the first day of classes at St. Petersburg Christian School after the Christmas break but didnít feel well. She left a couple of hours later and went to an urgent care clinic, where a swab ...
Published: 01/19/18
This 66-year-old is about to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents

This 66-year-old is about to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents

When Robert Owensís father was 75, he gave his son some advice. "He said, ĎYou know, son, the sad part is when you get old they just put you on a shelf and you become irrelevant. Fight to stay relevant. Fight to stay in the game, otherwise they will ...
Published: 01/18/18
5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

5 things we learned about Trump from his medical checkup

Five things we learned about President Donald Trump from Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the doctor who oversaw Trumpís first medical checkup in office. SLEEP Trump doesnít get much shut-eye. Jackson guessed that Trump snoozes four to five hours a nig...
Published: 01/17/18
A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

A century after the 1918 pandemic, science takes its best shot at flu

WASHINGTON ó The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after one of historyís most catastrophic disease o...
Published: 01/17/18
A popular school fundraiser is just Ďjunk-food marketing to kids,í experts say

A popular school fundraiser is just Ďjunk-food marketing to kids,í experts say

For 43 years, schoolkids and their parents have clipped the labels from cookie bags and cracker boxes as part of a popular rewards program called Labels for Education.Through this and similar programs ó think Tysonís Project A+ or General Millsí Box ...
Published: 01/17/18
Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you donít want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Published: 01/16/18

CDC says ĎThereís lots of flu in lots of places.í And itís not going away anytime soon.

A nasty flu season is in full swing across the United States, with a sharp increase in the number of older people and young children being hospitalized, federal health officials said Friday.The latest weekly data from the Centers for Disease Control ...
Published: 01/12/18