New Peanut Allergy Guidance: Give Your Baby Peanut Foods Early
Friday, February 10th, 2017
Do you know anyone with a peanut allergy? If so, you know this allergy can be very dangerous and that people with this allergy have to be very careful about the foods they eat (or even the foods people are eating near them!) You may have heard that you shouldn’t give peanuts to a baby until later in life to help prevent a peanut allergy. However, now there are new guidelines for when to introduce peanuts to your little one.
In a significant reversal from past advice, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued new national health guidelines this month. These guidelines are calling for parents to give their children foods containing peanuts early and often, starting when they are infants, as a way to help avoid life-threatening peanut allergies. To explain these new recommendations, Dr. Shahzad Mustafa, MD, Medical Advisory Board Chair of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) and a leading allergist, spoke with EverydayFamily’s Shiloh Johnson. See the full interview here.
First of all, you may be wonder why there has been a change to these guidelines in the first place.
In 2000, there was a recommendation to delay introducing peanuts to young children. The hope was that delaying the introduction of peanuts would minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. However, peanut allergies are more prevalent than ever, and delaying the introduction of peanuts did not help. For the last five to ten years, there has been a lot of research on peanut allergies.
Two years ago, a landmark paper was published, and these current guidelines are based on the science and research from that paper. Dr. Mustafa hopes that this research will help peanut allergies and other food allergies go down.
So, if you shouldn’t wait, when should you introduce peanuts to your child?
Dr. Mustafa explained that these new guidelines encourage parents to introduce peanuts as early as six months of age. However, there are three groups your child could be in that determine how you should introduce peanuts.
- Low-risk group: If your infant has no risk factors, parents can introduce peanuts at home, without hesitation, around the six-month mark.
- Moderate-risk group: If your infant has mild-to-moderate eczema, parents can still introduce peanuts at home. However, if you are concerned that there could be a bad reaction, peanuts could be introduced in a supervised setting, like in a physician’s office.
- High-risk group: If your infant has severe eczema or an egg allergy that is already diagnosed, he or she would need to be tested before having any exposure to peanuts. The tests would either be blood work or skin testing with an allergist.
Of course, there is always a potential for other risk factors. The new guidelines do not mention what to do if family members have a peanut allergy or other food allergies. Always go to your pediatrician with any questions or concerns you may have before introducing peanuts to your infant. You can also check out http://peanutallergyfacts.org for more information and resources. See the infographic below for tips on introducing peanut protein to infants:
Dr. Mustafa noted that the risk of an allergic reaction when introducing peanuts is exceedingly low. Keep an eye on your child when you introduce peanuts. The first introduction may not have a severe reaction. Introduce peanuts and keep peanuts in your infant’s diet consistently to see if anything changes with repeated exposure. Dr. Mustafa emphasized that the overall goal is to get children exposed to peanuts earlier. Introduce them early and often.