Scientists at the University of Bristol have discovered a possible link between drinking soya milk as an infant and the development of peanut allergies.

The researchers, who have monitored 14,000 babies in the South West since they were born as part of the “Children of the 90s” study, say that among the 49 children who developed a peanut allergy, almost a quarter had consumed soya milk in their first two years.

“These results suggest that sensitisation to peanut may possibly occur… as a result of soya exposure,” lead researcher Dr Gideon Lack, of Imperial College London, was quoted by BBC Online as saying.

The research also suggests that some skin creams that are used to treat childhood eczema may lead to the development of peanut allergies, especially if the cream contains peanut oil.

Parents are, however, being urged not to switch from using skin creams or soya milk until further research has been carried out.

David Reading, director of the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign, 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.”