Peanut Allergy Prevention
Peanut allergy prevention can be considered from two perspectives: peanut allergy prevention from developing in pregnant women, and peanut allergy prevention from an allergic reaction for those who have a peanut allergy.
While it may not be possible for a completely prevent a peanut allergy from developing in infants, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of a reaction.
Peanut Allergy Prevention: Avoid Direct Contact with Peanuts
Avoiding direct contact with peanuts is the most important step of peanut allergy prevention. The use of peanut butter substitutes and careful reading of food product labels go a long way in preventing a reaction.
Peanut Allergy Prevention: Carry Medication
For those who are especially vulnerable to a severe anaphylactic reaction, a portable autojector might be a good idea. Here are some other suggestions.
Peanut Allergy Prevention: Peanut Detector Dogs
A Peanut Detector Dog is a valuable tool for a person with an allergy to peanuts. Since a dog’s sense of smell far surpasses that of humans, detection of odors is a perfect job for these dogs.
Peanut Allergy Prevention During Pregnancy
Women with allergies or with a family history of allergies (hay fever, asthma, eczema–in short, any atopic disease), or in situations where the biological father or his immediate family has a history of allergies, are typically advised to avoid all peanut products during their pregnancy and during the breastfeeding stage.
Peanut Allergy Prevention: Infants
Mothers should breast feed their infants for at least four to six months if possible, since breast milk is much less likely to produce an allergic reaction and can strengthen the child's immune system.
Infants not being breast fed or fed with breast milk should be fed partially pre-digested, protein hydrolysate formulas such as Alimentum or Nutramigen rather than milk- or soy-based formulas.
When infants are six to 12 months old, vegetables, rice, meat, and fruit can be introduced to their diets. Each food should be introduced one at a time so parents or caregivers can identify and eliminate any foods that cause a reaction. At age three, fish and peanuts may be introduced.
Long term, scientists are working to develop genetically altered plants that produce non-allergy-causing peanuts. Another potential peanut allergy prevention option is to identify the biological markers of the disease that occur in people who experience anaphylaxis and these could provide a possible genetic test for predicting the disease and its severity.
Peanut Allergic Children
The Mayo Clinic makes the following recommendations to parents to safeguard their children from suffering an allergic reaction.
- Be sure to read food labels carefully, and avoid foods that may have come in contact with peanuts. Manufactured foods are required to clearly state whether foods contain any peanuts, and if they were produced in factories that also process peanuts.
- Use peanut butter substitutes that allow for safe enjoyment of popular foods.
- If you've already had a severe reaction to peanuts, wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
- Talk with your doctor about emergency medications.
Additional Suggestions for Peanut Allergy Prevention
- Teach your child to ask for help. Make certain that your child knows how to tell others about his or her peanut allergy and to ask for immediate help if they believe they might be having an allergic reaction. KatieCare Productions offers a fantastic educational song and video program to teach children how to be safe.
- Discourage your child from sharing foods. It is not unlike children to accept or swap food at school or elsewhere, so it is best to discourage your child against such a practice since the presence of peanuts or peanut products is not always obvious, and children may forget.
Peanut Allergy Prevention: Adults
Learn to read the labels on all the foods you eat, and learn the subtle ways peanut products wind up in food one might not expect them to be in. See our peanut foods resource page for more information.
Wearing an ID bracelet that specifies your name, peanut allergy, doctor's name, and emergency contact number is highly recommended.
Finally, if your doctor believes it is necessary, he can prescribe you emergency medication–injectable epinephrine–that you can carry with you at all times in the event of an emergency.
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