10 Nov How to Decrease the Risk of a Peanut Allergy
As a parent, nothing can be more frightening than discovering your child has a serious allergy to an everyday item. In an instant, your child may consume something and suddenly experience very serious side effects. Fever, vomiting, hives, rashes, and hospitalizations can all come out of nowhere, leaving many parents feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
Childhood food allergies are extremely common in the United States today. In fact, it is estimated that around 6 million young children in the United States alone suffer from food allergies, and the most common of those allergies are peanuts.
Studies on Kids and Peanut Allergies
For years, experts simply advised pregnant women to stop eating peanuts while pregnant and to not feed peanuts to their children while they were starting on solid foods. However, recent studies on food allergies in pregnant women, babies and young children have found that this advice was completely wrong. In fact, the study found that kids who were introduced to peanuts at a young age had an 80% lower chance of developing peanut allergies than kids who did not.
Peanuts While Pregnant
Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pregnant women to not avoid any particular food group while pregnant if they are doing so in hopes of protecting their child from allergies. Women who enjoy peanuts should continue to eat them during their pregnancy.
Introducing Infants to Peanuts
Experts from the AAP suggest that babies can be introduced to peanuts at six months while they are transitioning to solid foods. Babies shouldn’t eat solid peanuts as they can be a choking hazard, but they can try a number of different peanut foods. Examples can be smooth peanut butter thinned out with a little water and mixed into infant cereal. Or powdered peanut protein, like PB2, can be mixed into pureed baby food.
Precautions for Infants With Allergies
While peanuts can generally be introduced quite early, there are a few precautions parents should take. Babies who are already allergic to eggs or who have severe eczema that doesn’t respond to treatment are actually at a higher risk of developing a peanut allergy. This is because their immune systems are already wired to be sensitive to certain allergies. While this doesn’t mean that the baby will necessarily develop a peanut allergy, parents should be extra cautious with these predispositions and talk to their pediatrician as to whether they need to avoid these foods or not.
The risk of peanut allergy is higher than other nut products slightly, but peanut allergy often overlaps with other nuts, such as tree nuts. If you have a strong family history of peanut or tree nut allergies or any food allergy, talk about if your infant should be introduced to foods differently that the American Academy of Pediatric guidelines.
If you have any questions about peanut allergies or food allergies in general, make sure to ask your pediatrician, or schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandal for more insight on how parents can help protect their children from harmful food allergies. You can schedule an appointment with our office by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at https://continuumtx.com/contact.