The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced the guidelines after running a clinical trial that followed children who were at high risk for peanut allergies. The results showed an astounding 81 percent reduction in developing a peanut allergy by giving foods with peanuts in them during infancy until five years of age.
“Everyone knows someone with a peanut allergy and how scary and frightening it is,” said Katrina Jensen, registered nurse and Intermountain Moms spokesperson said to KUTV Channel 2. “I think (the new guidelines) changes the shape of family’s futures if they can identify them with this and find out hey, my child can overcome this - even with their risk factors.”
The concept is that by giving peanut-based foods during infancy then it works much like a flu shot for their system. The immune system takes the chemical compound in peanuts and builds a resistance to them. By age five, the child’s own body can now combat peanuts through their lives.
The new guidelines that are based on the risk the children have to peanuts. The risk is based on if the child has eczema and/or egg allergies. The recommendations are as follows:
- High Risk Children: This includes children if they have severe eczema, an egg allergy, or both. Introduce diluted peanut butter to kids between 4-6 months of age. Use peanut butter mixed with a puree of other foods three meals a week for a total of 6-7 teaspoons of peanut butter.
- Moderate Risk Children: For children with mild to moderate eczema with no egg allergies – parents can introduce peanuts pureed in foods around six months.
- No Risk Children: If the child has no eczema, egg allergies, and no family history of peanut allergies, then parents can safely use foods mixed with peanuts. Parents should wait until the infant is eating solid foods first, so typically after six months and be safe.
- Family History of Peanut Allergies: Jensen said to first talk to a pediatrician if there is a familial history. There might need to be further testing needed first.
Use Purees – Not Whole Peanuts
Peanut butter can be in some meals or can be pureed into a variety of foods such as with vegetables and fruits.
“Just dilute it with a little bit of water and its 6-7 teaspoons (peanut butter), so it’s a very small amount. Then watch for reactions,” Jensen said.
It is important to not give whole peanuts to infants to avoid choking hazards.
For more information on allergies and testing, visit Intermountain Healthcare’s Allergy and Immunology section.