Peanut Allergy Advice for Children Changes

At-Risk Children Should Eat Peanuts

As any parent can attest, peanut allergies are a big concern. And not just for those who have children at-risk of a potential allergic reaction, but also those who have other parents’ children over for a birthday party.

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In the U.S. about 1 in 50 school-age children are allergic to peanuts, which in severe cases can manifest as anaphylactic shock―a potentially life-threatening reaction that disrupts breathing and causes a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Typically, children who have had a previous allergic reaction to eggs or experienced a severe eczema skin rash are considered to be high-risk for a peanut allergy. Parents of such children are urged to have allergy tests performed on their children at an early age to determine whether they may or may not have an allergy and thereby will know if they need to avoid exposure to peanuts and peanut-containing foods. Furthermore, as a general precaution, the typical medical advice about peanuts is that children should avoid them until they’ve grown older giving their immune system time to develop.

However, a new study released earlier this year found that avoiding peanuts may not really be the best advice for avoiding an allergic reaction to peanuts. When a group of 640 high risk peanut allergy infants ranging in age from 4 months to 11 months old were divided into peanut protein-fed and peanut protein-denied groups, years later the peanut protein-fed children had 81 percent fewer peanut allergies than the peanut protein-denied group.

According to CBS News, the study’s findings have prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to announce their recent endorsement that infants at high risk of peanut allergies should be given foods containing peanuts before their first birthday.

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"There is now scientific evidence," the AAP says, "that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of 'high-risk' infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age) in countries where peanut allergy is prevalent because delaying the introduction of peanut can be associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy."

According to CBS News, the AAP’s recommendations are meant to serve as interim guidance until more extensive guidelines can be prepared for release next year. Parents can look for the academy's official statement when it is published online August 31 in the journal Pediatrics.

For more about peanut allergies in children, here is an informative article about 8 tips for avoiding a peanut allergy reaction while flying.

Reference: CBS News “New advice for parents on peanut allergies

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