There is new evidence, which has a growing body of research, that opposes what parents were told years ago regarding peanuts and young children. This new evidence suggests that frequent exposure to peanuts is the best approach to prevent allergies later in life. These new guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advise early introduction of peanuts to a child’s diet.
In early 2015, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed the view that infants as young as four months, that were high-risk, should have peanuts introduced to their diets. As previously stated, it was recommended that peanuts should not be introduced until the are of three.
With this new information, the NIH is adding their input with encouraging parents to introduce peanuts to their children’s diets. The NIH is also suggesting that four months of age is an appropriate age for this introduction, with the consultation of a healthcare professional.
A particular study that was taken into consideration by the NIH involved babies around the age of eight months old who did not react to a peanut allergy test.
Out of these children, almost 14 percent developed a peanut allergy by five years of age. Of the infants who received small doses of a peanut paste each week, only 3 percent became allergic. This research was carried out by a team at King’s College London, in the UK. This study included 600 babies that were identified as being at risk for peanut allergies. These babies had previously shown signs of allergies to eggs or eczema.
With this information, there are also statistics to take into consideration. Since 1997 the amount of children with a peanut allergy has more than tripled. Researches are not sure of the reasoning for this, but guidelines that are outdated suggesting that toddlers stay away from peanuts could be contributing. This would be the case due to scientists thinking that peanut proteins in the air can cause allergies, but eating the peanuts can actually prevent allergies.
This would help better understand why peanut allergies are more common in certain countries like the US and UK. In these countries, peanuts are a staple food, but are very seldom given to babies. This is not an issue in other parts of the world where peanuts are either rare, or they are consumed by both adults and babies.
This is backed by the idea of dual-allergen exposure hypothesis. This suggests that having skin contact with an allergen can lead to an allergy, whereas eating small doses of an allergen at a young age can build a tolerance.
It is suggested that babies at four to six months of age who are high-risk, with an egg allergy or severe eczema, should have peanut-containing foods introduced to their diets. Kids with mild to moderate eczema can have peanuts added to their diets at six months of age.
With infants who do not show any signs of food allergies or eczema, foods that contain peanuts can be freely introduced at an “age-appropriate manner” together with solid foods.
In any of these cases, the NAID recommends consulting with a doctor. A doctor can help determine if your child is at risk, as well as how peanuts can be added safely to a child’s diet. Do not proceed with anything until you have received advice from a medical professional.
Countries around the world are now further looking into these studies as well as other similar research. In Australia parents are now advised to introduce their babies to eggs and peanuts within their first year.
With this new approach we hope that we can reduce the amount of children who develop food allergies. It is currently estimated that one in thirteen kids in the US develop a food allergy, and these new guidelines are ones that we can continue to follow.
These guidelines have been published in a number of journals, including the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
MacKoul Pediatrics is an amazing local pediatrics office in Cape Coral, FL where caring, compassionate doctors and nurses work with you to keep your children as healthy as possible. MacKoul cares for children from birth to college age, from Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond.
February 24, 2017