Since babies with egg allergy or severe eczema (allergic rash) also are at risk of developing peanut allergy, it may seem like a nutty idea to give them peanut products.
But a recent study found that feeding these babies peanut products early actually may prevent peanut allergy. This approach was recommended in a report endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The medically supervised study tracked 640 babies with severe eczema, egg allergy or both. Half ate a peanut product at least three times a week for five years. Half avoided peanut products. Infants who were fed peanut products were at a much lower risk of having a peanut allergy at the end of the study.
“The high-risk infants in this study were tested to be sure they were not already allergic to peanut,” said Scott Sicherer, M.D., FAAP, an AAP expert in pediatric allergy and immunology. “At age 5 years, only 3% of the infants randomized to eat peanut had peanut allergy compared to 17% among those avoiding it.”
Official guidance on feeding peanut-containing foods to young children to prevent allergy has not been issued. However, parents with infants who have severe eczema, egg allergy or similar allergies can talk with their pediatrician or allergist for more information about whether and how to safely introduce peanuts into their child’s diet.
In addition, there is no recommendation to wait to feed peanut products to otherwise healthy babies to prevent allergy, said Dr. Sicherer. However, children younger than 4 years of age should not be given whole peanuts or peanut pieces because they can choke on them.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers also have no reason to avoid peanut products to prevent allergies in their babies, according to the AAP.
The AAP also states that there is no convincing evidence that delaying solid foods beyond 4-6 months of age, including allergens such as fish, egg and foods with peanut protein, prevents allergies.
Signs of a food allergy may include rash, swelling, vomiting and trouble breathing, typically within minutes to an hour of consuming food. If your child experiences any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more feeding and nutrition information, talk with your pediatrician.
© 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.