New Research Reinforces Early Introduction of Peanuts May Be Key to Preventing Children from Developing Peanut Allergy
LEAP-On Study, Funded by Food Allergy Research & Education and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Continues Earlier Work to Determine Impact of Peanut Avoidance vs. Consumption
LOS ANGELES (March 4, 2016) – Most children previously enrolled in a pivotal peanut allergy prevention study in which they were introduced to peanut early in life continued to tolerate peanuts, even after avoiding peanuts for a full year, according to the results of the LEAP-On Study. Funded by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, the study was presented today at the annual scientific meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) in Los Angeles.
Last year, researchers published results of the groundbreaking LEAP Study, a randomized clinical trial enrolling more than 600 infants at high risk for developing a peanut allergy, in which one group was fed peanuts early in life while the other group completely avoided peanuts, until the age of 5. For the children who were fed peanuts, sustained consumption was highly effective – with just 3 percent developing peanut allergy vs 17 percent of those in the avoidance group. In LEAP-On, the continuation of the LEAP Study, researchers sought to determine whether those children who consumed peanuts until age 5 would develop peanut allergy if they subsequently avoided peanuts for 12 months.
The results, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the 12-month period of avoidance was not associated with a significant increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy. At age 6, the prevalence of peanut allergy was 4.8 percent among those in the consumption group, up from 3.6 percent at age 5. The prevalence of peanut allergy was 18.6 percent in the avoidance group.
“These findings are important because they demonstrate the potential for people to become tolerant to peanut, and not just desensitized,” said James R. Baker, Jr., MD, CEO and chief medical officer of FARE. “We are pleased to see that the results of the LEAP Study have begun to make an impact through the updates to NIAID’s clinical guidance for physicians, which will address the role of early consumption in prevention of peanut allergy, and we believe that the findings from LEAP-On provide additional evidence that will be helpful in further informing advice for new parents from their healthcare providers.”
Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) Study
Also at the AAAAI meeting, researchers presented findings from a study that sought to determine whether the early introduction of allergenic foods in the diet of breastfed infants would protect against the development of food allergy. The trial, funded by the Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom, included 1,303 exclusively breastfed infants at 3 months of age that were randomly assigned to be introduced to six allergenic foods (early introduction group) or to the current UK practice of exclusively breast feeding until 6 months of age (standard introduction group).
According to the findings, the trial did not show efficacy of early introduction in the intent-to-treat analysis. Food allergy to one or more of the six foods developed in about 7 percent of the participants in the standard introduction group and 5.6 percent of those in the early introduction group.
“The results of the EAT study tell us there is more we need to understand about the induction of tolerance to food,” Baker said. “Importantly, however, early feeding was not associated with increased risk of food allergy, so parents should have no concern about introducing allergenic foods in their non-food allergic children’s diets. Parents should consult with their pediatrician if they have questions about the timing of introducing allergenic foods.”
Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children in the U.S. – or roughly two in every classroom. FARE’s mission is to improve the quality of life and the health of individuals with food allergies, and to provide them hope through the promise of new treatments. Our work is organized around three core tenets: LIFE – support the ability of individuals with food allergies to live safe, productive lives with the respect of others through our education and advocacy initiatives; HEALTH – enhance the healthcare access of individuals with food allergies to state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment; and HOPE – encourage and fund research in both industry and academia that promises new therapies to improve the allergic condition. For more information, please visit www.foodallergy.org and find us on Twitter@FoodAllergy, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.