Introducing babies to peanuts may reduce their risk of becoming allergic. Over the past 15 years, the number of kids with peanut allergies has tripled. Children do not usually outgrow this particular food allergy, and exposure to peanuts can cause a dangerous reaction.
In children and adults who have experienced a mild reaction to peanuts, there is a chance that the next reaction will be much more serious. Anaphylaxis, for example, is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within minutes of exposure.
New research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that some children can be introduced to peanut products early in life to help prevent peanut allergies from developing.
The researchers have highlighted five important things for parents to know about the early introduction of peanuts in infants to reduce their allergy risk.
According to the study, infants who are regularly fed peanut protein are less likely to develop an aversion to peanuts. The experts recommend giving peanut protein, such as peanut butter or powdered puff, to babies who are between 4 and 6 months old as one of the first foods.
This strategy, however, should not be used for infants with the most severe type of eczema, or atopic dermatitis. Babies with severe eczema are more likely to have a peanut allergy, and only children who are free of eczema should be introduced to peanuts in the home.
Infants with eczema and other risk factors for peanut allergy, such as an egg allergy, should be seen by a specialist before they are given peanuts in any form.
Among children who are good candidates for reducing the risk of peanut allergy, 8 grams of peanut protein should be eaten at least twice a week. This is the equivalent of one heaping teaspoon of peanut butter.
The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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