The NHS has warned against feeding babies peanuts after a study found exposure to peanut products could help reduce the risk of children developing an allergy.

Researchers at King's College London tested 640 babies aged between four and 11 months and found their risk of developing an allergy was cut significantly if they were exposed to a peanut-based snack, compared to results from a control group.

While the babies tested were prone to developing a peanut allergy (as they had eczema or egg allergies) scientists performed skin-prick tests to ensure they did not already have one.

Responding to reports of the research on its Choices website, the NHS said headlines suggesting "peanuts, from the age of four months" may help cure allergies, could encourage "irresponsible behaviour".

It warned "dangerous headline advice" could lead "parents to think they can simply give peanuts to an allergic child and cure them".

This is irresponsible. Parents are also advised not to give peanuts – or any whole nuts – to children under the age of five, because of the risk of choking.

NHS Choices recommend parents consult their GP if they are believe their child has a peanut allergy.

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