New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics have revealed that giving children peanuts in infancy can help them avoid developing a related allergy.
The clinical report, published this month in the group’s Pediatrics journal, debunks the commonly held belief that “delaying the introduction of allergenic foods, including peanuts, eggs and fish beyond 4 to 6 months, prevents atopic disease.”
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Atopy refers to the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Atopy is typically associated with heightened immune responses to common allergens, especially inhaled allergens and food allergens.”
“There is now evidence that early introduction of peanuts may prevent peanut allergy,” the AAP’s guidelines reveal, adding of the related effects of breastfeeding, “There are no short- or long-term advantages for exclusive breastfeeding beyond 3 to 4 months for prevention of atopic disease.”
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The new research replaces 2008 guidelines that, even then, told parents there was no reason to avoid introducing common allergen foods like peanuts, eggs and milk past 4 to 6 months old.
But now, the AAP is encouraging parents to introduce peanuts to their children even earlier, depending on their level of risk. High-risk children — like those with “severe eczema,” a family history of allergies and an allergy to eggs — should be given peanuts, the AAP advises, around 4 to 6 months old, assuming adequate medical supervision. An age of 6 months is appropriate for kids with moderate risk, while low-risk children can be given peanuts at any age.
“For the prevalence of specific food allergies in the per-protocol analysis, there was a significant protective effect of early consumption of both peanuts and eggs,” the AAP wrote of their findings, after conducting a study involving babies between 3 and 5 months old. “This was not observed for any of the other allergenic foods introduced.”
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The National Peanut Board‘s website PreventPeanutAllergies.org has hopped on board the prevention train, too, introducing a line of baby clothing called Size 4 to 6 Months that is “inspired by the reassurance you get from knowing that introducing small amounts of peanut foods around 4 to 6 months can help reduce baby’s chance of developing peanut allergies.”
The adorable bodysuits and T-shirts are made out of 100 percent cotton and feature peanut-themed sayings and graphics, with lines like “Little Sprout,” “Peanut Butter Belly Time,” “Tiny and Mighty” and “Hello I’m New Here!”
Even better, each piece (retailing for $28) provides a donation to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, to benefit “the advancement of allergy solutions,” according to the collection’s website.