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    Peanut Allergy May Be Preventable

    New Drug Protects From Reactions; New Finding May Keep Kids From Getting Nut Allergies

    True Prevention of Peanut Allergy continued...

    "From our data it appears that sensitization to peanuts occurs after birth and may be related to environmental exposures," Lack tells WebMD. "One such exposure is topical exposure to lotions containing peanut protein. Another is [skin] exposure to soy milk."

    What does all this mean? Lack warns against jumping to conclusions. He says the rash is the main clue -- and that it's not drinking soy milk, but dribbling soy milk on the skin that seems to be the culprit. Why? First, people sensitive to soybeans often cross-react to peanuts or tree nuts. Second, skin rashes attract cells of the immune system. Peanut oils or soy milk seeping through broken skin may sensitize these cells and start the allergic process.

    Here's Lack's advice to parents:

    • Don't stop using lotions for skin rash until you see a doctor.
    • Don't stop giving children soy milk or soy formula until you see a doctor.
    • Be very careful about using any skin oils or massage lotions on babies or young children. Check the label -- look out for lotions that contain peanut or nut oils.
    • If you're nuzzling an infant or changing its diapers, don't wear cosmetics containing peanut or nut oils.
    • If your child has a rash, see a doctor. Don't use over-the-counter skin preparations without medical advice.

    "I think that people need to be more aware of what is being applied to the skin," Lack says. "This advice applies particularly to allergic families. So if there is a family history of asthma, hay fever, eczema, or food allergy, any new child has a high risk."

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