Introducing peanut to young infants in the LEAP peanut allergy prevention study did not negatively impact duration of breast feeding, nutritional intake, or growth five years later. The data published last week in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology alleviate potential concerns about whether adding peanut to the diet of this very young population (age 4-11 to 60 months) could have had negative effects on growth and nutrition.
The release of the LEAP primary results in 2015 led to the development of consensus communications from professional allergy associations recommending early (vs. delayed) peanut introduction in allergy-prone infants to prevent subsequent development of peanut allergy. These recommendations run counter to the World Health Organization’s guidelines to exclusively breast feed during the first six months of life. The LEAP investigators therefore assessed food diary data and body measurements collected throughout the study to determine whether the LEAP intervention (a recommended 6 grams of peanut per week, equal to 3 teaspoons of peanut butter) impacted the duration of breast feeding, nutritional intake, or weight in the consumption group.
The investigators found no differences in the average duration of breast feeding between the consumption and avoidance groups (4.7 months vs. 4.9 months respectively, p=0.56). There were also no significant differences in height, weight or body mass index between the groups across the course of the study. The energy intake (total calories) was equal between the two groups; however the consumers had a higher proportion of calories come from fat, whereas the avoiders had a higher intake of carbohydrates.
The manuscript articulates the take-away for physicians as follows: “Peanut consumption as a strategy to prevent peanut allergy, introduced in infancy is nutritionally safe even when consumption occurs at high levels."