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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 07:01 GMT
Allergy 'may be linked to soya milk'
Parents are being urged to seek medical advice if concerned
A possible link between infants who drink soya milk and peanut allergies has been discovered by scientists at the University of Bristol.

The research was carried out as part of the Children of the 90s study, which conducted a yearly check-up on 14,000 babies in the South West since they were born.

Researchers say that among the 49 children with a peanut allergy, almost a quarter had consumed soya milk in the first two years of life.

But parents are being urged not to change from soya milk as further studies are needed to confirm the findings.

Medical consultation

Dr Gideon Lack, the lead researcher, said: "These results suggest that sensitisation to peanut may possibly occur... as a result of soya exposure."

The research also shows that some skin creams used to treat childhood eczema may cause an allergy to peanuts - particularly if the creams contain peanut oil.

But parents who use creams including peanut oil are being urged not to stop without prior medical consultation.

Peter Lapsley, chief executive of the Skin Care Campaign, said people should not be unduly alarmed.

"Parents should not panic over reports that peanut allergies could be caused by ointments containing peanut oil," he said.

"As far as we can ascertain, none of the emollients and few other products available for GPs to prescribe contain peanut oil.

"It is important to put this study into perspective.

"While the findings are interesting, this is an epidemiological study looking at population trends.

"It does not prove a clinical link between peanut oil in skin products and allergy in later life.

"Parents may also be reassured to know that previous clinical studies have shown that arachis oil does not cause an allergic reaction, even when swallowed by peanut sensitive individuals."

The research was carried out by Dr Lack at Imperial College London at St. Mary's Hospital, and Professor Jean Golding and Kate Northstone at the University of Bristol.


David Reading, director of the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign, welcomed the research.

He told BBC News Online: "The number of children with peanut allergy has tripled in the last decade, and it's not yet certain why this is.

"However, this study may provide at least some of the answers and we would welcome further research that may confirm the findings.

"In the meantime, we are advising parents not to make any sudden changes in their children's diets, or remove prescribed creams, without first seeking medical advice."

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