The number of children with a peanut allergy diagnosis is rising at a troubling rate. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has published new peanut allergy recommendations in hopes of curbing the trend.
There is no simple treatment or cure for an allergic reaction. Peanut allergy sufferers and their families must live a careful and strict lifestyle. Even the environment they are in can trigger their allergy. NIAD, part of the National Institutes of Health, released the clinical report this week. The directives got people talking, because of a surprising suggestion: give peanuts to infants.
New 2017 Guidelines for Peanut Allergy
An expert panel announced the three key guidelines. They all relate to helping health care providers know when introducing peanuts to infants is appropriate. NIAID asserts that access to peanuts early in life can prevent development of a peanut allergy. However, the clinical decision must be made dependent on an infant’s risk of developing an allergy.
Find the guidelines below, then check out a helpful form for all parents of school-age children beneath.:
Guideline 1 focuses on infants deemed at high risk of developing peanut allergy because they already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both. The expert panel recommends that these infants have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets as early as 4 to 6 months of age to reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy.
Parents and caregivers should check with their infant’s health care provider before feeding the infant peanut-containing foods. The health care provider may choose to perform an allergy blood test or send the infant to a specialist for other tests, such as a skin prick test or an oral food challenge. The results of these tests will help decide if and how peanuts should be safely introduced into the infant’s diet.
Guideline 2 suggests that infants with mild or moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets around 6 months of age to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.
Guideline 3 suggests that infants without eczema or any food allergy have peanut-containing foods freely introduced into their diets.
In all cases, infants should start other solid foods before they are introduced to peanut-containing foods.
Where Can I Find More Information?
These guidelines came from the results of two recent clinical studies involving children and peanuts (cited below). They are meant to supplement the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, released in 2010.
- The ongoing LEAP study in the U.K., aimed at finding out whether peanut avoidance or peanut consumption is the best strategy to prevent allergy development in high-risk infants.
- An NIH-funded trial, concluded in 2015, by Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), to determine if early peanut consumption or avoidance is most effective.
Parents of kids attending school can also review and print this Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. Kept on file at school, it is helpful to combine with any prescribed medication like an epinephrine injection kit.