The National Institutes of Health has completely changed their tune regarding when we should start to introduce peanuts to our children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has been suggesting since 2000 that parents hold off introducing peanuts and other foods containing allergens when starting their infants on solids as it was believed that we would be decreasing the chances of them forming an allergy to that particular food. Turns out, it’s the complete opposite: it actually drastically increased the chances of forming an allergy, by almost three fold!
Brand new guidelines have been released by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology that suggest that peanuts should be given to children as young as possible and as often as possible to prevent an allergy from forming. “The LEAP study clearly showed that introduction of peanut early in life significantly lowered the risk of developing peanut allergy by age 5.”
As Dr John Rodarte of Descanso Pediatrics/Huntington Health Physicians explains, “It looks like there is a window where the body tolerates any food ingested and does not react to it.” This theory is proven further by a study conducted in the UK where it was found that when peanuts were fed to infants between the ages of four to eleven months, almost none of them developed an allergy.
Your child’s risk factor in developing allergies is used when determining the ideal time to introduce peanuts into their diet. The higher the risk, the earlier introduction will be recommended, some as early as four months old. For those with a lower risk, six months old is an ideal time to introduce peanuts into your child’s diet.
A child that is considered high risk they will usually also have very severe eczema often accompanied by an egg allergy. Allergists suggest that if this is the case, the first time your child tries peanuts should be in a specialist’s office, just to be safe.
The easiest way to introduce peanuts into your child’s diet at home is by spreading some sugar and salt-free peanut butter onto a rice cake or toast for them to eat a few times a week. Make sure to never give them full peanuts as they are a major choking hazard.
Other ways to help build a strong immune system so that your infant is able to fight off allergens is to breastfeed as well as eating a diet rich in vitamin D when pregnant.
According to allergist Dr Stephen Tilles, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, this new find offers a lot of promise and could take peanut allergies from being at almost epidemic status, to something that only affects very few people.
Moms for some this is great news. With everything, be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician on the risks related to allergies and introducing new foods.
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