What is the CHILD Study?

Even after the LEAP Study came out and basically proved early introduction could reduce a baby’s chance of developing peanut allergies, there were still skeptics. 

The LEAP Study tested how well early introduction worked in babies at high-risk of developing peanut allergies. But should every baby eat peanuts early and often, or only some? And did early introduction only work with peanuts, or all of the most common allergens?

The CHILD Study set out to answer these questions.

Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study

The CHILD Study followed thousands of Canadian babies from birth over several years to find out how different behaviors, like early allergen introduction, and risk factors, like eczema, affect a baby’s risk of developing food allergies. A recent publication from the CHILD study team specifically looked at peanut introduction in low risk infants. 

How did this study work?

CHILD participants were recruited from the general population before birth. Every 6 months, parents reported if they had started feeding their babies certain proteins (like egg or peanut), and if their child had been diagnosed with a food allergy.

At ages 1 and 3 years, all babies were tested for sensitization to peanut, egg, and dairy using a skin prick testing (SPT). Their levels of eczema were also evaluated at their regular check-ups.

The researchers then used this information to see if there were associations between early introduction of peanut, egg, and dairy and the presence of food allergy sensitization at 3 years old.

Study Results

After looking at nearly 3,000 toddlers and their history, infants who started eating peanut after 12 months were 2.38x more likely to be sensitized to peanut, and 4x more likely to have a peanut allergy at 3 years. 

The link between early allergen introduction and a decreased risk of food allergy was there no matter if they looked at high- or low-risk babies.

The CHILD Study was more confirmation that:

  • Early introduction of allergens was safe and did not cause reactions in young babies. 
  • Avoiding peanut until 18 months, like the old thinking, caused a 7x higher rate of peanut allergy. 

What does this mean for new parents?

This research from the CHILD team proves that all parents should embrace early allergen introduction. Babies with no risk factors like eczema or family history can still develop food allergies. By following early allergen introduction, parents may be able to prevent that from happening.