For many years, food allergies have been on the rise. Today, as many as 1 in 50 children in the United States have a peanut allergy. When living with a peanut allergy, parents and children must be hypervigilant about the foods their children eat and the environments their children enter. Nut free lunch tables at schools and multi-packs of Epi-pens have become a normal part of daily life for many families. Halloween, birthday parties, play dates…they can all pose a risk when a child has a life-threatening allergy like a peanut allergy.
Recent studies, however, have prompted a change in how we recommend the introduction of allergenic foods like peanuts to infants. An expert panel put together by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has looked at these recent studies, and issued new recommendations on the introduction of peanut-containing foods to infants, with hopes of decreasing peanut allergies.
So what does this all mean for your children? Essentially, introducing peanut containing products earlier in life may reduce the risk of peanut allergy.
Below is a summary of the current recommendations and a link to the new guidelines:
1. If your child has SEVERE ECZEMA, EGG ALLERGY, or BOTH: peanut-containing foods can be introduced as early as 4 to 6 months, AFTER consultation with your pediatrician, and likely evaluation by an allergist for either allergy blood testing or a skin prick test to check for peanut allergy.
2. If your child has MILD to MODERATE ECZEMA: peanut containing foods can be introduced around 6 months of age.
3. If your child has no eczema or food allergies: peanut containing foods can be introduced at any age.
Whole peanuts are a choking hazard, and should not be given to children under the age of 5. Pureed peanut powder, Bamba ® snacks, and peanut butter mixed with hot water to make a puree are all ways that you can introduce peanut into your infant’s diet.
**Most importantly: before starting solid foods and introducing allergenic foods like peanuts, make sure to speak with your Coastal Kids Pediatrician about these new guidelines and your child’s readiness for solid foods.