Peanut allergies can be severe, and the number of people suffering from these allergies is on the rise. Many schools forbid peanuts on campus and children’s party menus increasingly avoid these tasty legumes. Surprisingly, though, new studies show that introducing peanuts to children at a young age could actually help prevent peanut allergies.
New peanut allergy guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend introducing infants who are at a high or increased risk for developing a peanut allergy to peanuts at an early age.
American Academy of Pediatrics peanut allergy guidelines
Infants at high risk of peanut allergy
Infants at the highest risk for peanut allergy should be introduced to peanuts as early as 4 – 6 months of age. Children with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both are at a higher risk for developing a peanut allergy. This reverses the 2000 AAP guidelines that recommended children at high risk for peanut allergy avoid peanut protein until 3 years of age.
The guidelines recommend conducting an allergy test before introducing peanuts or peanut butter to children at high risk of peanut allergy. According to the LEAP study, which the new guidelines are primarily based on, 6-7 grams of peanut protein, given in three or more feedings over the course of a week, is safe, can decrease a child’s risk for developing a peanut allergy, and will not affect growth or development. Parents with children in this high risk group may want to consider medically supervised feeding.
Infants at increased risk of peanut allergy
Introducing peanuts to infants at a moderate risk for developing a peanut allergy around 6 months of age can reduce the risk of peanut allergy. This group includes infants with mild or moderate eczema. It’s still a good idea to consult a doctor before introducing peanuts to infants at a higher risk for peanut allergy. Again 6-7 grams of peanut protein over the course of a week can help protect your child from a peanut allergy without negative effects.
Infants not at an increased risk of peanut allergy
No special precautions need to be taken with infants who do not have eczema or food allergy. According to the new guidelines, peanuts may be introduced “freely” to this group’s diet. Of course, there are things to consider apart from allergy when it comes to peanuts and your child’s diet.
Peanuts and peanut butter present a choking hazard. Blend smooth peanut butter with other foods such as fruits or vegetables to prevent choking.
Is your child allergic to peanuts? Is it OK for your child to eat peanuts? Should you consider supervised feeding with a medical professional? Your child’s pediatrician can help you answer these questions and more. Schedule an appointment with a MANA pediatrician today!