For parents who are unsure when and how to introduce their babies to food containing peanuts, new guidelines are on the way.
The guidelines — coming soon from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) — are to be presented Friday at the ACAAI’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
“The first step is determining if your child is at high-risk for peanut allergy,” guideline co-author Dr. Amal Assa’ad said in a college news release.
“Before introducing peanut-containing foods to a high-risk infant, the infant should be seen by their primary health care provider who will determine if referral to an allergist for testing and/or in-office introduction is needed,” said Assa’ad, chair of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee.
Infants with severe eczema and/or an egg allergy are at high risk for peanut allergy, according to the guidelines.
Parents are advised to introduce high-risk infants to peanut paste or peanut protein as early as 4- to 6-months of age, after determining it is safe to do so.
Dr. Matthew Greenhawt is an allergist and a guidelines co-author. “Studies have shown infants who are peanut-sensitized, aren’t necessarily allergic. Infants sensitized to peanuts showed the most benefit from early introduction of peanut-containing foods,” he explained in the news release.
“If your child has in-office introduction and is found to have a peanut allergy, they’ll need to avoid peanuts altogether, and have an annual evaluation with an allergist,” added Greenhawt, who is the incoming chairman of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee.
However, children with mild to moderate eczema who have already started solid foods can be introduced to peanut-containing foods at home at around 6 months of age, according to the guidelines. For children with no eczema or egg allergy, these products can be introduced when the family wishes.
The ACAAI noted that there are several things for parents to keep in mind:
- It’s important to never give whole peanuts to infants because these pose a choking hazard.
- When first introducing your infant to eating solid foods, don’t give them peanut-containing foods right away.
- Only introduce peanut-containing foods when your child is healthy. If he or she has a cold, vomiting, diarrhea or other illness, parents should hold off on that first feeding.
Food Allergy Research & Education has more on peanut allergy.