New guidelines tell parents to give their child peanuts at FOUR MONTHS. Drastic change in medical advice insists earlier exposure will prevent allergies. Currently, parents are advised to wait 12 months before trying peanuts. But new research suggests children with low risk can try it at 4 months. The latest studies show earlier exposure could drive down allergy rates. However, scientists warn children with eczema should get a skin-prick test first to assess their risk factor.
Parents should give their children peanuts as young as four to six months of age, new guidelines say.
Currently, most parents wait until 12 months after their baby’s birth to try the food which has a high risk of causing anaphylactic shock.
In the update, announced on Friday, doctors insist earlier exposure could drastically reduce the number of children with peanut allergies.
‘This is an amazing opportunity to help potentially reduce the number of cases of peanut allergy,’ Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, who coauthored the update, said.
The basis for recommendations is the Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study. In that trial, infants at high risk for peanut allergies who were exposed to peanuts early were less likely to develop an allergy by the time they reached five years of age.
The findings were published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine. The updated guidelines offer three approaches to peanut introduction depending on the infants’ risk of allergy, according to Greenhawt. First, infants with severe eczema, egg allergy or both are at high risk for peanut allergy.
They should be exposed to peanuts as early as four to six months to reduce the risk of allergy. Beforehand, however, these infants should undergo a skin prick test. If the test yields no welt or a small welt of up to 2mm, parents can introduce peanuts at home.
But if the test yields a welt of 3mm or larger, peanuts should be introduced in the doctor’s office – or not at all if the welt is large and an allergist recommends avoidance.
Second, infants with mild to moderate eczema who have already started solid foods should be exposed to peanuts at six months of age.
Third, infants without eczema or any food allergy are at low risk, and parents can introduce peanuts in an age-appropriate form at any time starting at age six months. Of course, infants might choke on whole peanuts. So what are age-appropriate forms of peanut?
Another coauthor of the new guidelines, Dr Amal Assa’ad, a pediatrician at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, outlined a number of options.
‘Several appropriate forms of peanut-containing foods are creamy peanut butter that can be made softer or more liquefied by adding warm water and let it cool, or serving corn puffs containing peanut,’ he said. ‘For older infants, peanut butter can be added to apple sauce or other fruit purees.’ The updated guidelines will be published in January on the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website.
In the meantime, the site provides the current 2010 guidelines on peanut and other food allergies. ‘As allergists, we’re very excited to see research being done to understand how children develop peanut allergy and how to treat it and how to prevent it,’ said Dr Stanley Fineman, an allergist at Atlanta Allergy and Asthma in Marietta, Georgia, who was not involved in updating the guidelines.
‘The problem was that we didn’t have any good guidance about who to give it to early and who not to give it to early,’ but these new guidelines will be helpful, Fineman said.
Online Source: Daily Mail Australia.