What Is The LEAP Study?
Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP)
By Lil Mixins Research Staff
Are you tired of hearing about “The LEAP Study”, but not knowing what it means?
The header of the original publishing of the LEAP Study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015.
In the world of pediatrics and allergies, the LEAP Study is the biggest thing since sliced bread. But if you don’t regularly read the New England Journal of Medicine, it can be a bit confusing. We’re here to help explain it.
First, a bit of History...
In 2000, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), told parents not to introduce allergenic foods until 12 months (dairy), 24 months (eggs) or 36 months (peanuts, tree nuts, fish). For a decade, this was the prevailing wisdom told to every new parent. And unfortunately, this advice persists among the general public, even though it is entirely unfounded.
To make things even worse, it’s possible that this advice has helped increase the rate of food allergies among children.
Scientists began wondering if maybe we had it backward. One study found that the risk of the peanut allergy was 10 times higher for Jewish children in the United Kingdom as compared to Jewish children in Israel. These children were genetically very similar, but peanuts are everywhere in the food Israeli infants are given. (Sidenote: other allergies, such as milk, are higher in Israeli children)
How did The LEAP Study “prove” that early introduction works?
The Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) team found a group of infants identified as high risk for peanut allergy—babies with severe eczema and/or egg allergy. This group of babies has a 30% chance of developing peanut allergy.
Each baby had a skin prick test, where they were exposed to a tiny amount of peanut just under their skin. If a welt, or wheel, developed on the baby’s skin, they were considered “sensitized” to peanuts already. Those who showed no wheel were considered not yet sensitized.
Then, the parents of half the babies in each group were told that the baby should “eat six grams of peanut protein per week” while the other half were told to “avoid peanuts.”
The scientists followed the babies until they were 5 years old to see who developed peanut allergies.
The results for babies who followed the rules were striking:
Nearly all of the babies regularly eating peanuts had no allergy by age 5.
Even those who were already sensitized to peanuts when the study started had extremely low allergy rates.
If you didn’t catch that, allow me to interpret it for you:
Giving children peanuts regularly decreased their likelihood of getting a peanut allergy by 80%.
The conclusion was clear: regular exposure to peanuts significantly decreased the likelihood that a baby would develop a peanut allergy.
The data from the LEAP Study, and some additional follow-on studies, were so conclusive that the American Academy of Pediatrics completely changed their guidelines in 2016. The AAP now recommends early introduction of peanuts for infants starting at 4-6 months of age.
If your baby has eczema, or an egg allergy, feed that baby peanuts!
If your baby doesn’t have eczema, the message is still the same. Early and consistent exposure to allergens dramatically reduces the risk of that allergy developing.
How exactly do you do keep up this rigorous exposure, especially with early eaters? You can try our products at Lil Mixins. You can also thin peanut butter and mix it into food or check out these recipes for kid friendly foods with nuts.
Hopefully, the details of the LEAP Study are a bit more clear now. And if you ever want to read the original study, you can find it in our Parent Resource Center, along with a whole bunch of other useful items.
Lil Mixins is the #1 selling Infant Peanut Powder, helping moms around the country start early introduction of peanuts to their infants and babies.
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