Peanut allergy is a growing health issue for which no treatment or cure currently exists.
As more research is conducted, experts are learning more about what may or may not contribute to a child’s likelihood to develop peanut allergy.
Brian Schroer, M.D., a pediatric allergist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said that recent research has prompted a change in the way health care providers advise parents on when to introduce peanut-products to young children.
“By introducing the peanut in kids who are not allergic to peanuts already; eating it early and often in the studies, showed that it prevented them from actually becoming allergic to peanut,” said Dr. Schroer.
A recent recommendation from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) calls for introducing peanut products to infants between the ages of four and 11 months.
This new recommendation runs contrary to older ones, which called for withholding any peanut products until the age of two years.
The recommendation is based on research that looked at more than 600 infants and found that those who consumed peanut products from infancy to age five had an 81 percent reduction in the development of peanut allergy compared to those who did not eat peanut products at the same ages.
It’s important to note there are more specific recommendations for children who are at a higher risk of developing allergy, such as those who have severe eczema or egg allergy. Therefore it’s important for these parents to talk to their child’s pediatrician before introducing peanut containing foods.
Dr. Schroer acknowledges that the new recommendation may scare some parents, as the reactions from peanut allergy can be severe. He recommends parents who are afraid to introduce peanut products to their infants at home to call their pediatrician.
“It’s much more important to talk to your physician and have the test done or introduce the peanut in the office, then it is to just simply avoid it because you’re too worried to do it at home,” said Dr. Schroer.