Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in childhood. Prevalence is up to 3% in some populations, and the allergy will continue in to adulthood for 80% of those affected. People living with peanut allergy, and their caregivers, must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter to avoid allergic reactions, which can be severe and even life-threatening.
Two publications this month (ESPGHAN Position Paper on Complementary feeding and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Peanut Allergy Guidelines) outline how the early introduction of peanuts into babies’ diets can reduce the incidence of peanut allergy.
Babies who are at high risk of peanut allergy, defined as those with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both, should be exposed to peanut-containing foods between 4 to 6 months, but following introduction of other solid foods and under the supervision of a clinician with expertise in the area.
Babies with mild to moderate eczema should be exposed to peanut-containing foods at around 6 months, following the introduction of other solid foods.
Babies who do not have eczema or food allergy, can consume peanut-containing food according to the family preferences and cultural practices.
Note: whole peanuts or nuts are not suitable for children under the age of 5 due to the risk of choking.
See here for more information on food allergies in babies.
If your child has a food allergy, consult with a Registered Dietitian for advice on how to avoid the allergen without compromising the nutritional quality of your child’s diet.