The Latest on Peanuts!

Remember when you were told NOT to give little ones peanuts… but the times, they are a changing, and now it’s “okie-dokie”. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents should introduce both allergenic and non-allergenic foods (including peanut products) to their babies at 4-6 months of age as long as their baby does not have severe eczema or an allergic disorder.

Since babies with egg allergy or severe eczema (which is an allergic rash), also are at risk of developing peanut allergy,.it is recommended that they see their pediatrician or allergist to receive a food allergy evaluation before starting peanut products.  Depending on the results from the evaluation, they can potentially still have peanut products introduced.

One study found that feeding these babies peanut products early actually may prevent peanut allergy. This approach was recommended in a report endorsed by the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The medically supervised study tracked 640 babies with severe eczema, egg allergy or both.  Half ate a peanut product at least three times a week for five years.  Half avoided peanut products.  Infants who were fed peanut products had fewer peanut allergies at the end of the study. At age 5 years, only 3% of the infants who ate the peanuts had peanut allergy compared to 17% of the kids who had avoided the peanuts!

There is no recommendation to wait to feed peanut products to otherwise healthy babies to prevent allergy. However, those under 4 years should not be given whole peanuts or pieces, due to choking hazards.  There is also no convincing evidence that delaying solid foods beyond 4-6months of age, including allergens such as fish, egg and foods with peanut protein will prevent allergies.

Things to remember when trying peanut products with your 4-6 month old:

  • Never give them whole peanuts
  • Do not give them very thick/sticky peanut substances, as these can be choking hazards
  • Give a small amount of watered-down peanut butter on a spoon and watch them for 15 minutes. If they have not had a reaction, you can give several more bites.
  • Monitor them for several hours to make sure they do not show signs of an allergic reaction.

Signs of food allergy may include rash, swelling, vomiting and trouble breathing, typically within minutes to an hour of consuming food.  If your child experiences any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.  Give that kid a hug, and maybe a little lick of peanut butter.

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