New moms can lower their child's risk of developing a peanut allergy in the kids' very first meals, according to Canadian researchers. A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that children breastfed by peanut-eating moms are less likely to develop a nut allergy later, reports the Telegraph. But the other factor in providing protection is to directly give peanuts to the kids in their first year of life, per the study. Researcher Meghan Azad of Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba dug into the breastfeeding angle after studies began to suggest that early introduction of peanuts helped, reports the CBC. But though "peanut proteins actually make their way into breast milk," Azad found no published research on peanuts and breastfeeding.
She did, however, find a 1995 study that tracked 342 kids from birth to age 7 when they were tested for a peanut allergy, which included data on mothers' peanut consumption during breastfeeding. Of those kids, 60 were breastfed by moms who snacked on peanuts and were given peanuts in their first year, and only one of them ended up with an allergy later. "So it's under 2%, whereas in the other categories, it was up around 15 or 16%," she says. "It seemed to be really that the combination was important." Azad is still working to understand the benefits but says antibodies and immune factors in breast milk "could be interacting with the peanut proteins to induce tolerance." (Could there be a peanut allergy cure?)