As a new mom, it can be overwhelming and confusing to feed your child. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to introducing potentially allergenic foods, such as peanuts. While some have been cautioned to hold off until a child is at least 3 years, others have heard that early introduction can prevent peanut allergies.
Fortunately, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored expert panel just released new guidelines to help answer some common questions about early introduction.
Based on the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) Study published in early 2015, early introduction of peanut foods to infants at high risk (those with severe eczema or egg allergy, or both) of developing peanut allergy reduced peanut allergy by 86%. These remarkable findings have led to a change in recommendations to introduce peanuts early to slow the increase in the numbers of children with peanut allergy.
The following is a brief summary of some of the new recommendations:
*Infants are broken down into 3 risk groups: 1. Those with severe eczema or egg allergy or both are considered highest risk; 2. Infants with mild to moderate eczema are considered to be at some risk; 3. If a child has no allergy or eczema, they aren’t categorized as at risk.
*For those at highest risk, an assessment by a trained board certified allergist is highly recommended. If introduction is recommended, infants should receive age-appropriate peanut foods starting as early as 4-6 months, in the amount of 2g peanut protein three times/week. They should be monitored for 2 hours after introduction. This may be done in the allergist’s office or at home, based on the recommendation from your allergist.
*If infants are at moderate risk, the guidelines recommend introducing peanuts at home if your board-certified allergist feels it is safe. The infant should receive age-appropriate peanut foods starting at 6 months, in the amount of 2 grams peanut protein three times/week.
*Those infants considered not at risk can be fed peanut foods in whichever form starting at 6 months. Easy ways to introduce peanut protein include mixing 2 tsp peanut butter or powdered peanut butter into 2-3 Tbsp of infant cereal or pureed fruits or vegetables or just thinning it with some warm water. Bamba brand peanut puffs are also an easy good option.
Early introduction has the potential to significantly reduce the number of peanut allergies for future generations. Spread the word to introduce peanuts safely and early.