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Introducing Young Children To Peanuts: New NIAID Guidelines Published

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The NIAID guidelines for introducing children to peanuts now reflect the LEAP study conclusion that early peanut introduction lowers the chance of peanut allergy for high-risk infants.

The LEAP (Learning About Peanut Allergy) trial revealed that babies with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both reduced their risk of peanut allergy by 81 percent with early, regular intake of peanut containing foods.

To help physicians and parents benefit from LEAP findings, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) worked with numerous federal, professional, and advocacy agencies to create the Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy.

Guidelines For Parents and Caregivers

The Addendum Guidelines come with two important caveats:

  1. Because of the risk for choking, never give infants or small children whole peanuts.
  2. Infant’s should be introduced to other solid foods before giving them peanut containing foods.

Keeping the above two provisions in mind, here is a summary of the Addendum Guidelines for parents and caregivers:

  • Guideline 1. To reduce the risk of peanut allergy, infants with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both should be introduced to peanut containing foods as early as 4 to 6 months of age.
  • Parents are advised to consult with the child’s healthcare provider before introducing peanut containing foods, and to follow the physician’s recommendations. A doctor may order allergy testing to determine whether the child can safely be introduced to peanut at home, at a medical provider’s office, or, if the child has already developed an allergy, not at all.
  • Guideline 2. To reduce the risk of peanut allergy, infants with mild to moderate eczema can be introduced to peanut containing foods around the age of six months. However, parents should not feel obligated to do this if peanut containing foods are not a regular part of the family’s diet.
  • A physician should determine whether the infant’s eczema is mild to moderate, and, depending on the child, may suggest the first peanut feeding be done at a medical provider’s office.
  • Guideline 3. Parents can freely introduce peanut containing foods into a child’s diet if the child does not have eczema or food allergies. Keeping family dietary habits in mind the introduction can be done at home in an age-appropriate way along with other solid foods.

Though early consumption of peanut containing foods reduces allergy risk, it does not prevent the development of peanut allergy in all at-risk children. Since peanut allergy can happen to any child, it is vital we continue offering compassion and accommodation to kids who have, or develop a peanut allergy.

Sources: Food Allergy; NIAID; Food Allergy

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