If you or someone you know suffers from a food allergy, then you are all too familiar with how time consuming it can be to constantly be reading labels and continuously being conscience of every single ingredient in everything you eat. Allergies can be exhausting!
New Peanut Allergy Guidelines
Parents are now advised to give some peanuts to their babies to help prevent peanut allergies. Some parents are going to be alarmed by this recent recommendation as it is a significant change from the previous allergy guidelines.
The previous peanut allergy guidelines recommended that all peanuts and peanut products be completely kept away from kids until the age of three if there was any risk of allergies. The new guidelines say that small doses of peanut should be given to babies with a high-risk of having a peanut allergy because it may prevent the allergy from ever developing.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other groups continue to follow up on their findings which show that giving peanut to kids early in life can help reduce severe allergic reactions by training their immune systems not to overreact.
Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, an allergy specialist at Children’s Hospital Of Colorado, says, “We actually want all children to have peanut introduced.” He goes on to say, “There is a window where the immune system isn’t going to recognize peanut as dangerous and that we believe happens very, very early.”
The new guidelines say that most babies should try a small amount of peanut in paste or powder form at home. Whole peanuts should never be given as they are a choking hazard.
Peanut Allergy with High-Risk Infants
High-risk infants are those with severe eczema or already have an egg allergy. These babies should be tested at a specialist’s office when they are around 4 to 6 months of age and are eating solid food.
Because these children are at high-risk, the doctor can monitor to make sure the child is not in danger if they experience a severe reaction when they get a little dose of peanut.
Greenhawt confirms that children with severe eczema and or egg allergy had about an 80 percent reduced chance of developing a peanut allergy if peanut was introduced between four to 11 months of life. Imagine the enormous benefits this can create if a child never has to develop this allergy.
Peanut Allergy with Moderate to Low-Risk Infants
Infants that are at moderate-risk are those with mild to moderate cases of eczema. They can be given a small amount of peanut-containing food at home without doctor supervision, according to the guidelines being published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Low-risk children with no egg allergy or evidence of eczema can be fed foods containing peanut when their parents decide, but they should get some by the age of 6 months after they start solid foods.
The groups cautioned that whole peanuts could choke small children. Therefore, no child under the age of 4 should get whole peanuts.
Risk Factors For Developing A Peanut Allergy
According to the new guidelines, family history is not a risk factor. Even if a child has a sibling or other family member that has a peanut allergy does not mean he or she is at a higher risk. As with any new food you introduce to your infant, it is important to watch them carefully to see if they show any signs of not being able to tolerate the new food. Visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for recommendations on introducing peanut-containing foods to infants.
Peanut Allergy Reactions
Some reactions that may occur are a rash, vomiting or something more serious like coughing, vomiting, wheezing, appearing withdrawn or lethargic. The child may also go into shock in severe cases.
An Ounce of Prevention
There is no doubt that the new guidelines will be anxiety-producing for worried parents. However, it will play a vital role in prevention. Peanut allergies cannot be cured, so if there is a chance to prevent it, then the high stakes are worth it. Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The new guidelines are based on the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study published in 2015. The results of the LEAP study showed that the early introduction of peanuts dramatically decreased the risk of developing a peanut allergy by 70 to 80 percent.
Nearly 5 percent of the children in the U.S. suffer from food allergies, according to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Moreover, for reasons no one fully understands, peanut allergies have become more common, but we now have a clear roadmap to prevent many new cases moving forward.