Preventing Peanut Allergy with Early Introduction of Peanuts
A peanut allergy doesn’t just limit the kinds of foods a child can eat. It impacts their life in many other ways. An allergic reaction can be life threatening, and the stress of avoiding peanuts can lead to anxiety. Peanut allergies affect about 1 or 2 out of every 100 kids - but introducing peanuts into an infant’s diet early on can help decrease their risk of developing a peanut allergy by 70 to 80%.
For the majority of children, early introduction of peanuts is perfectly safe to start at home. For some children who are at a higher risk of severe peanut allergy, it’s best to see a health care provider before they eat any peanut products. High risk infants include those who have:
- Moderate to severe eczema.
- Other known food allergies, such as an egg allergy.
- A family history of peanut allergies.
An infant can begin early introduction starting at 4 to 6 months old, but it’s important to keep food safety in mind. Whole peanuts are a choking hazard for infants. Instead, try mixing a little peanut butter with yogurt or with other safe foods for your child.
If parents have any concerns about food allergies, talking to a pediatrician about referral to an allergist is a great first step. An allergist can look at your child’s family history, see if your child might benefit from allergy testing and help guide you on when to introduce certain foods into your child’s diet.
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