MONTREAL -- Babies who do not consume peanut during their first year of life are four times as likely to be allergic to it by age three than babies who did consume it before their first birthday, according to a new study.

The study - which was led by researchers from the The Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM) and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice - used data from more than 2,600 Canadian children to reach its conclusion, and its recommendation: that even infants who are at a low risk of developing a peanut allergy should consume peanut early in life.

"Even when we excluded high-risk children, early peanut introduction was associated with a lower risk of peanut allergy by age three," said lead reseracher Dr. Elinor Simons of the University of Manitoba and the CHRIM. "This means that low-risk children may also benefit from early introduction of peanut.”

The same study found that children who did not have peanut introduced into their diet by the age of 18 months were more than seven times as likely to be allergic to it than children who consumed peanut before nine months of age.

“This tells us that if peanut is not introduced before the age of 12 months, it should still be introduced as soon as possible,” Simons said.

Simons added that she hopes the study will further ease the anxiety of parents who are still wary of giving their infants possibly allergenic foods like peanut, even as clinical guidelines for exposing children to them have loosened in recent years.

"This study’s findings should reassure parents, caregivers and healthcare professionals about the benefits of early peanut introduction for all children," Simons said.