We wrote about the original peanut and infant study last year, but a followup study found that if a baby was originally exposed to peanuts and then didn’t have peanuts for 12 months, the risk to develop a peanut allergy did not go up.
Here’s what we know according to the study:
18.6 percent of children who were in the avoidance group from ages birth to 6 developed a peanut allergy. 4.8 percent of children who ate peanuts developed a peanut allergy. And when the peanut-eating kids stopped eating peanuts from ages 5 to 6, only 3 out of 270 developed a new allergy during that time. Coincidentally, the same number, 3, of the never-eaten-a-peanut-in-their-life group also developed a peanut allergy between ages 5 and 6.
“Among children at high risk for allergy in whom peanuts had been introduced in the first year of life and continued until 5 years of age, a 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with an increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy.”
What does this mean to you? Don’t worry about avoiding giving kids peanuts until after they turn 1. That’s old thinking. The restrictions of what you could introduce when were lifted in 2008.
Dr. Bradley Berg, medical director of pediatrics at Scott & White Hospital in Round Rock, told us last year. “If you give them peanut butter earlier, the body sees it and incorporates it into the immune system,” he says. They don’t develop the allergic reaction.
He recommended that you start slowly with peanuts or eggs. First give them a lick off a spoon or a bite off your plate. Then give a pea-size amount for a day or two; move up to half a teaspoon; then stop worrying about how much you’re giving.
A reaction will typically look like lip swelling or hives, which are raised welts on the body that look like mosquito bites. It can also result in vomiting — not just spit up, but emptying the contents of their stomach, Dr. Elizabeth Knapp, a pediatrician with Austin Regional Clinic, told us last year. That’s when you would call the doctor or taken them to the emergency room if it was severe.
Knapp recommended introducing a new food that might be an allergen, like peanut butter, in the morning on a day when the parents will be around to watch their babies. Don’t give it to them when they are about to go to sleep or on a day when parents are sending them off to day care.
The only thing parents should wait to introduce until after babies turn 1 year old is whole milk. Dairy products are fine, but whole milk has too much iron for babies to process, Berg told us.
The more different foods parents are introducing, Knapp says, the more they’re ensuring that kids don’t get stuck in the one- or two-foods-only rut that sometimes happens during the toddler years.
So eat some peanut butter, baby, and strawberries and eggs. Enjoy.