When Should Kids Start Eating Peanuts? New Guidelines Explain

If the child isn't considered high risk, "parents should follow the recommendation of introducing peanut-containing foods at 4 to 6 months". It's a major shift in dietary advice for a country fearful of one of the most unsafe food allergies.

Low-risk infants: These infants do not have eczema or an egg allergy.

Peanut allergies are responsible for more deaths from anaphylaxis, or constriction of the airways, than any other food allergy.

"For high risk infants, the guidelines recommend the introduction of peanut-containing foods as early as 4 to 6 months if solid foods have already been tolerated and after determining that it is safe to do".

Instead, they had peanut butter or, more likely, Bamba, a peanut-flavored puff commercially produced in Israel.

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For the study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers looked at kids in three risk groups, and created recommendations for each group. "Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs", said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD. Severe reactions can occur the very first time a child is exposed to a peanut product, so you can understand how some parents find themselves idling outside the E.R. with a toddler and a jar of Jif.

The new NIH guidelines, Poole said, are important because they'll get the word out to doctors and to the public, "so we can, hopefully, make a huge change in food allergy and reverse the awful trend we have seen in the last 20 years". For these kids, experts say nutty foods should be introduced around six months. Poole said babies shouldn't get whole peanuts or a big gobs of peanut butter; both are choking hazards.

The addendum guidelines recommend that peanut is introduced into an infant's diet at different ages depending on their level of risk for developing peanut allergy.

"We actually want all children to have peanut introduced", Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, an allergy specialist at Children's Hospital Of Colorado, told NBC News.

In response, most schools now restrict foods with peanuts, and manufacturers are required to label whether food contains peanuts or was manufactured in a facility that processes them.

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These new guidelines are based on research that showed that 80 percent of babies who were introduced to peanuts early on in life did not develop peanut allergies. If your child is in the high-risk group, his or her pediatrician may want to try a skin-prick or other allergy test first, in order to rule out an existing peanut allergy. People with a history of serious allergy carry an adrenalin pen at all times to control the allergic response in case of accidental peanut contact. "If it's not severe, give (peanut-containing foods), but give it at 6 months".

And, for reasons no one really understands, peanut allergies have become more common.

The decision to rework the guidelines came after a trial of more than 600 infants found that regular peanut consumption until age 5 reduced the likelihood of an allergy by 81 percent.

"There is a window where the immune system isn't going to recognize peanut as risky and that we believe happens very, very early", Greenhawt said.

All the things you learned about preventing peanut allergies may now be the exact opposite. In 1999, just 0.4 percent of kids were known to have peanut allergies. "Without that kind of data and evidence-based practice, we have to say it's the logical next step, but we can not issue hard and fast guidelines for other allergies".

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