NIH-sponsored expert panel issues clinical guidelines to prevent peanut allergy

In a significant reversal, new health guidelines call for parents to give their children foods with peanuts, starting when theyOre infants, as a way to help avoid life-threatening peanut allergies.

The guidelines were issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on the basis of a clinical study sponsored by the same organization.

The infants in the high-risk category are those that suffer from severe eczema, an egg allergy, or both.

For other tots, most parents can start adding peanut-containing foods to the diet much like they already introduced oatmeal or mushed peas. In recent years schools have taken the staple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of lunchrooms, and banned homemade snacks in case peanut products are used.

Aspen said the new guidelines wouldn't have helped Christine.

Generally, parents are advised to keep their kids away from peanut products until age three.

Indeed, peanut allergy is a growing problem, now estimated to affect 2 percent of US children.

Mardi Williamson was diagnosed at five months with a severe peanut allergy, before her mother Michelle even tried to feed her peanut.

The latest guidelines on peanut allergies for infants is the opposite of all the traditional advice most parents have probably heard on the subject.


"This showed that early introduction of peanut flour had over 80% prevention effect", Nepom said. One should never give a baby whole peanuts or peanut bits, experts say, because they can be a choking hazard.

And research published in September concluded there was "moderate certainty" early introduction of egg and peanut was associated with lower incidences of allergies to them.

The latest research has found giving babies peanut-based snacks at an early age can reduce the risk of developing a unsafe nut allergy later in life. Still, as a widely-cited study has shown, the issue tends to receive excess media hype: Of the several million Americans who suffer from food allergies, about 2,000 people are hospitalized each year as a result of anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, and 150 people die-compared to almost 100 times as many who died from gun violence last year. "In the best case scenario, every allergist across the USA could be seeing fewer cases of peanut allergy - and that's a good problem to have".

And, for reasons no one really understands, peanut allergies have become more common. Among more than 600 infants studied, the prevalence of peanut allergy at age 5 years was reduced by 81% in infants with a history of allergy who were randomised to eat peanut compared with those randomised to avoid peanut.

"It was scary to have a reaction, but I feel more confident having had the experience", she said.

This means early exposure to peanuts can work in helping to prevent an allergy later on but only prevent, as there is now no cure for peanut allergies. The infants should first see a board-certified allergist for peanut allergy testing, which will determine if peanut can be safely introduced, and if this needs to first be done in a specialist's office.

"There is a window where the immune system isn't going to recognize peanut as unsafe and that we believe happens very, very early", Greenhawt said. They should start peanut-based foods around 6 months, at home.

Introduce peanut-containing foods at an appropriate age and in accordance with family preferences and cultural practices.


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