Exposing Babies to Peanuts and Other Allergens Can Help Prevent Food Allergies

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Exposing Babies to Peanuts and Other Allergens Can Help Prevent Food Allergies

Recent clinical trials showing that infants at a high risk for peanut allergies were much less likely to develop these allergies if they were fed peanut snacks, is making me want to shove a spoonful of peanut butter down babies throats. However, with images of rashes, puffy tongues and eyes flashing through my head, this compulsion is reconsidered.

 

Many parents have long been under the impression that delaying giving their kids allergenic food is the most effective way to prevent food allergies. That approach is based in part on the flawed notion that it’s smart to let an infant’s gastrointestinal and immune systems “mature” for a while so they can better handle allergenic foods. However, now, scientists believe that exposing the gastrointestinal system to an allergen early in life is unlikely to cause an allergy. It probably does the opposite. So before going on my peanut butter baby-feeding quest, I did some digging.

 

New study shows that most peanut allergies can be prevented by feeding children nut-based products, like Bamba, in infancy

 

The New England Journal of Medicine study that shattered the status quo ideology of food allergies, was actually not surprising if you’ve been following current advice and research on food allergies. It’s been apparent for a while that waiting a year or longer to feed your child peanut butter and eggs is pointless at best. Some research recommends that the earlier you introduce these foods the better. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ official recommendation is to wait until 6 months to give babies any solid food. But you shouldn’t force solid food on a baby who isn’t ready. Once your infant does seem ready, you can go for it—give him/her eggs, peanut butter, strawberries, the works. Debbie Palmer, head of the Childhood Allergy and Immunology Research team at the University of Western Australia, who has published extensively on the topic, says,

 

Solid food introduction from 4 months of age, including a wide range of healthy foods and potential food allergens such as eggs, peanuts, and fish, is our current best advice,

 

So eating peanuts, helps to promote tolerance to them, thereby decreasing allergy risk. In other words, the old recommendation to “delay the oral introduction of peanuts and eggs was quite possibly the worst approach,” Palmer says. Oops!

 

Please see more information in this trial: Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy

 

References:

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2015/03/peanuts_for_infants_to_prevent_food_allergies_give_infants_all_the_food.html

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/parenting/baby-and-toddler/news/a26231/eat-peanuts-as-a-baby-to-avoid-allergy-in-future/