If you’ve ever noticed an unusually high number of kids eating sunflower seed and jelly sandwiches, you know that peanut allergies are the real deal — an estimated two percent of children in the US suffer from them, and peanut allergies can cause life-threatening food-induced anaphylaxis. So some new advice from a major research institute on how to prevent the dangerous allergy is definitely causing some controversy.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases just released new guidelines for parents to try to prevent the allergy before it even starts, by introducing peanuts to their infants as early as four to six months old. The guidelines are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, who in 2000 said parents shouldn’t expose high-risk infants to peanuts until the age of three.
The new recommendations are broken down into three categories according to risk:
1. Low Risk: For infants with no eczema or egg allergy, peanut-containing foods can be introduced based on family and cultural preferences.
2. Moderate Risk: For infants with mild to moderate eczema, peanut-containing foods can be introduced around six months.
3. High Risk: For infants with severe eczema, egg allergy or both, peanut-containing foods can be introduced at four to six months old, after consulting a doctor/specialist.
One thing to note — infants should start other solid foods first to show they are developmentally ready, and whole peanuts, which are a choking risk, should *not* be given to children under five years old (opt for peanut protein or thinned peanut butter instead).
According to NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci, the new guidelines have the potential to reduce the prevalence of peanut allergies in the US and could be “game changing.”
Here’s to hoping those nut-free tables at school get a little less crowded.
Do you have peanut allergies? Tell us what you think of the new guidelines with us @BritandCo!