In January 2017, food allergy experts issued updated guidelines recommending most infants be fed peanut proteins starting at around 6 months of age. Emerging research suggests peanut exposure starting at an early age may help reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy.
In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about which foods are appropriate for infants and moms. Families often get confused and ask questions such as: Can you eat peanuts while you’re pregnant? What solid foods should I give my infant, and when? Read on for answers.
This week an important new study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that infants and toddlers exposed to peanut at a young age have a significantly lower risk of developing peanut allergy.
The study took place at King’s College in London, and involved 640 infants at high risk for developing peanut allergy (infants who already had severe eczema or egg allergy). Starting as early as 4 months of age, half of the babies in the study began eating peanut on a regular basis. The other half of babies completely avoided peanut until they were 5.
When the children in the study reached their fifth birthday, researchers compared the rates of peanut allergy in the two groups:
Food allergies have been on the rise in recent years. Studies suggest that up to 1 in 13 children are affected by a food allergy. Egg and cow’s milk are the most common food allergies for infants and toddlers. Fortunately, most children will lose a milk or egg allergy by the time they enter school. Peanut and tree nut allergies are also becoming more common. Unfortunately, only 10-20% of children will ever outgrow a nut allergy.
Currently there is no cure for food allergies. Instead, doctors rely on an accurate diagnosis, avoiding food triggers, and being prepared in the event of a severe reaction. Making the situation more challenging, nearly half of children with a food allergy may be at risk for a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include: