Giving Babies Peanut Foods Can Prevent Serious Allergy: NIH

Judith QuinnJan 08, 2017

Specifically, these new NIH peanut allergy guidelines outline when and how to introduce peanut-based foods to infants, categorized into three different risk groups.

The allergy generally develops in childhood and persists through adulthood. Her older brother Zach, now 3, had a peanut allergy he later outgrew and Camden had an egg allergy, so Schreiner was anxious. On Thursday, the National Institutes of Health announced that parents should feed babies their first foods containing peanuts when they are as young as four months old-which is the earliest that they should be eating any solid foods at all.

Wasserman says even with the new guidelines she'd have a hard time following them with a new baby.

The food guideline recommends continuing with about 2 teaspoons of peanut butter three days a week.

Peanut allergy is a growing health problem for which no treatment or cure exists. The allergic reactions can be severe and life-threatening.

The guidelines are meant to help prevent the development of peanut allergy.

Dr. Jill Poole, an allergist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said she already has been advising patients to give peanut products to babies sooner rather than later based on the same research results, published in February 2015, on which the NIH panel based its recommendations.

Parents should begin feeding infants peanut products between four and six months of age, not waiting until 12 months, a practice that appears to be fuelling a rapid increase in peanut allergy in North America.

"The (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) study clearly showed that introduction of peanut early in life significantly lowered the risk of developing peanut allergy by age 5", said Daniel Rotrosen, the director o NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation. These children do not need to first see a specialist and can have peanut-containing foods introduced at home. Those babies should be tested at a specialist's office when they're 4 to 6 months old and have started taking solid food. After running skin-prick tests on the babies and excluding those who were allergic to peanuts, they randomly assigned some babies to be regularly fed peanut products, and others to be denied peanut-containing foods.

The new guidelines are being embraced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which put out recommendations 17 years ago that some families should avoid feeding children peanuts until they turn 3.

Since then peanut allergy in children has soared. Those types of allergies have become endemic across the U.S. So sometimes kids with peanut allergies will kind of lean over and grab their chest because they can't breath.

Dr. Greenhawt said these new guidelines won't compete eradicate peanut allergies in children, but they're a great start.

"I'm excited about this", said Brown.

Most kids should get a small taste of peanut protein by the time they are 6 months old, and they should get regular doses if they don't have an allergic reaction.

Introduce peanut-containing foods at around 6 months. This can be peanut butter dissolved or thinned with water; peanut butter, peanut flour or powder mixed with a fruit or vegetable puree; or several pieces of Bamba, a puffed maize snack with peanuts, which can be softened with water or not depending on the child's age or preferences.

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