New NIH guidelines urge early introduction of ‘infant-safe’ peanut to prevent allergy

January 6, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

New NIH guidelines urge early introduction of ‘infant-safe’ peanut to prevent allergy         

The Utah Food Allergy Network (UFAN) in cooperation with Food Allergy Research & Education’s (FARE) Clinical Network site at Primary Children’s Hospital, is excited to announce the release of new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases expected to lead to a significant reduction in the prevalence of peanut allergy among children, which could have a major public health impact.

Food allergy is an important public health problem because it affects children and adults, can be severe and even life-threatening, and may be increasing in prevalence. These guidelines have been developed for early introduction of peanut-containing foods into the diets of infants at various risk levels for peanut allergy.

The new guidelines recommend early introduction of peanut protein for infants who are at increased risk of developing the allergy. They caution, however, that peanuts and peanut butter are choking hazards, and advise on forms that are safe for infants such as peanut butter smoothed into pureed fruits or vegetables.

Conclusions from the guidelines:

  1. If child has severe eczema or egg allergy they should get testing at an allergist office quickly.  If negative, child should start to consume between age 4-6 months.
  2. If patient has mild eczema, can introduce without testing at 6 months.
  3. If patient has no history of allergies, introduce when family desires.

Pediatric allergist at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Dr. Rafael Firszt, says “Before introducing peanut into your child’s diet, please consult with your health care provider to determine whether they feel it is safe for your child to begin eating peanuts, and to also provide you with a safe, age-appropriate plan for introducing peanut-containing food options.  Please be aware that whole nuts should not be given to children under 5 years of age and avoid giving your child peanut butter directly from a spoon or in lumps before the age of 4, as these represent a choking hazard. If, after a week or more eating peanut, your infant or child displays mild allergic symptoms within 2 hours of eating peanut, you should contact your health care provider.”

Melissa Sauter, UFAN Executive Director, is “excited families now have a road-map to follow and guidance for safe introduction of peanuts, especially in high risk infants, where early introduction may actually stave off the development of a lifelong, severe allergy.”

For more information please refer to the full guidelines at: http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(16)31164-4/fulltext

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