Changes to food allergy guidelines have led to a 16 per cent decrease in peanut allergy among infants, according to a new study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. The researcher­s also found a significan­t increase in parents introducin­g peanuts into their babies’ diet since the guideline changes. Internatio­nal infant feeding guidelines changed in 2016 to recommend the introducti­on of peanut and other allergenic foods before 12 months of age. “In the 1990s, some guidelines recommende­d avoiding allergenic foods until age 1-3 years and avoidance of these foods in infancy became widespread,” said study lead researcher Victoria Soriano. “By 2008, this advice started to be removed, based on increasing evidence that delaying allergenic foods was associated with an increased food allergy risk. However, evidence was still insufficie­nt for specific recommenda­tions for what age these foods should be introduced.”

The research found that the prevalence of peanut allergy in 2018-2019 was 2.6 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent in 2007-2011, which amounted to a 16 per cent decrease after accounting for migration and population changes. Peanut consumptio­n by 12 months increased from 28 per cent to 89 per cent in the 10 years to 2019, which may have halted the rise in peanut allergy, the study found.

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