Parents have been told to avoid giving peanut-containing foods to babies for a long time, but recent research has started to suggest the opposite. Now, the US National Institutes of Health recommend parents introduce peanuts to babies as young as four to six months.
Photo by NIAID.
Peanut allergies are deadly serious, and parents were previously told to hold off on introducing peanuts until children were into their toddler years, especially if there is a family history of allergies. Experts believed this would reduce the risk of them developing a peanut allergy, but now they believe it’s the other way around. Several large studies have shown that babies who are at high risk of becoming allergic are actually less likely to develop the allergy if they’re regularly fed peanut-containing foods during their first year. In an announcement earlier this week, the NIH summarised new guidelines for preventing peanut allergies in young children. Their panel of allergy experts recommend that infants with a high risk of developing a peanut allergy should have it introduced to their diets as early as four months.
That said, before you introduce peanut-containing products to a child, make sure they are evaluated by an allergy specialist first. And the NIH cautions against giving infants whole peanuts or straight peanut butter since they can be choking hazards. To learn more about the new US guidelines, check the link below.
NIH-sponsored expert panel issues clinical guidelines to prevent peanut allergy [National Institutes of Health via NPR Science]