As science progresses, we learn more and more about the things that affect our health and well being. As parents, we have seemingly unending questions and concerns about what is best for our children – especially about issues that may impact the rest of their lives. One such concern is food allergies, and here we’ll take a moment to address the newest recommendations regarding peanuts.
Peanut allergies are the leading cause of food allergy related deaths in the United States, and allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish are generally lifelong allergies (FARE). In an effort to lower the number of illnesses and deaths from food allergies, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommended in 2000 that children should avoid all nuts and nut products until age 3. By 2008 the AAP stopped using this guideline, as studies showed that nut allergies were on the rise instead of declining. In 2015, a new study showed that introducing peanut products to infants “led to an 81% reduction in the…development of the allergy,” (NIH).
Taking this new study’s findings into account, the AAP recommended new guidelines in 2015, stating that “’There is no reason to delay giving your baby foods that are thought of as allergens like peanut products, eggs or fish,’ said Dr. Scott Sicherer, MD, FAAP, a coauthor of the report. ‘These foods can be added to the diet early, just like foods that are not common allergens, like rice, fruits or vegetables’” (HealthyChildren.org). The study goes further, dividing babies into 3 groups: those with severe eczema and/or egg allergy, those with mild to moderate eczema, and babies without eczema or food allergies, and giving each group its own suggestions.
“For the first group, those with severe eczema and/or egg allergy, testing for peanut allergy is recommended—and parents should talk with their doctors about how and when to give peanut products. If testing shows an allergy, it may be a good idea to do that first taste of peanut product in the doctor’s office. Parents of babies in this group should talk to their doctor early, like at the 2 or 4-month checkup, because the recommendation is that these babies should get peanut products between 4 and 6 months.
There is no testing needed for babies with mild to moderate eczema, although they should still talk with their doctors about their child’s situation and needs. These babies should try peanut products at around 6 months of age.
The babies who don’t have any eczema or food allergy can have peanut products along with other foods based on their family’s preferences and cultural practices. It’s not so important to do it early, but it’s fine if parents do” (HealthyChildren.org).
While Peace of Mind remains a nut free facility, we are so happy and encouraged about the possibility of reducing food allergies in children! As with all suggested guidelines, we strongly recommend working with your pediatrician to do what is best for your individual child. Also, please keep in mind that whole peanuts are dangerous choking hazards to young children, and if you choose to feed your infant nut products, make sure it is the age appropriate consistency. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Peace of Mind at 651-731-2608.