New research has shown that introducing peanuts into an infant’s diet at an early age could prevent peanut allergies for those at high risk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a consensus statement in a recent issue of “Pediatrics” supporting the research until formal guidelines become available. The consensus statement, supported by 10 medical organizations, highlights the emerging evidence of the potential benefits of early rather than delayed peanut introduction to infants.
A recent study revealed an 11 to 25 percent reduction in the risk of peanut allergy in high-risk infants if peanuts were introduced between 4 and 11 months of age.
This is good news given that peanut allergy is an increasingly troubling global health problem that affects about 1 in 50 primary school-aged children in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, according to the statement.
The study recommends infants with severe eczema or egg allergy be evaluated by an allergist or physician trained in allergic diseases to help implement early peanut introduction. In these cases, peanut skin testing, in-office observed peanut ingestion or both should be considered.
According to the consensus, more extensive guidelines will be available in the near future from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and other groups. These groups will consider all available data and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to apply prevention strategies to the general population. The consensus stresses that doctors implement the changes immediately.
By Betsy Stein
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