After multiple studies showing feeding peanut-containing foods to infants can reduce the risk of peanut allergies, the National Institutes of Health have released guidelines for parents about when to start feeding their infants such foods.
NIH recommends parents introduce peanut-containing foods to babies as young as 4 to 6 months. Allergist Amal Assa’ad at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital helped write the recommendations. She says in the past, it was recommended to delay giving a child foods containing peanuts during their first few years of life. But newer research shows there are benefits to earlier introduction.
Assa’ad says prior to introduction, a child should be seen by a doctor or an allergist, who can test for a peanut sensitivity. That person can give parent the proper instructions for how to go about giving the child foods containing peanuts. Children at highest risk have eczema and/or an egg allergy, and the guidelines suggest they be exposed as early as four to six months of age. It’s also recommended infants with mild to moderate eczema who are already eating solid foods should be exposed at six months – the same age as babies who do not exhibit any risk factors. But some kids develop peanut allergies without any risk factors.
A peanut allergy can cause hives, rashes, breathing difficulties, and a severe reaction can be fatal.