Early introduction of Peanuts in diet can prevent allergy among high risk group: NIH

Early introduction of Peanuts in diet can prevent allergy among high risk group: NIH

Introduction of peanuts in diet of high allergy risk group at an early age can reduce the risk of peanut allergy, according to new guidelines issues by the National Institutes of Health. The NIH guidelines suggest that peanuts and other nuts can be added in small amount of diet of toddlers at age of 4-6 months. Children at high risk of acquiring nut allergy can escape allergy if they are introduced to nuts at an early age. Their body welcomes the addition of nuts in small amount, as per medical research conducted in recent years. Earlier, health experts suggested parents to avoid offering nuts to children at high risk of nut allergies but after new evidence from medical research, the guidelines have been changed.

Nearly two percent of children in the United States suffer from peanut allergy. NIH guidelines suggest that depending on risk of allergy for a child, peanuts can be introduced between 4-6 months of age. The NIH research found that introducing peanuts at early age dramatically reduces the risk of peanut allergy among children.

Food allergies lead to many difficulties for adults and children as they have to avoid many food items having allergens. Similar to introduction of other foods items with oatmeal, mashed peas, parents can add small amounts of peanuts to diet of toddlers.

Nearly two percent of kids in the United States suffer from peanut allergy and they have to avoid many food items containing peanuts. Many people with nut allergy complain about missing out of peanut butter, one of the most popular bread spread in the United States.

The new guidelines are opposite of what doctors suggested in the past. As there was no positive impact of cutting down peanut consumption among kids with high risk of developing nut allergies, the guidelines were changed in 2008. Now, the NIH guidelines suggest introducing nuts at early age to reduce risk of allergy.

"It's an important step forward," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which appointed experts to turn the research findings into user-friendly guidelines. "When you do desensitize them from an early age, you have a very positive effect."

A report published by Associated Press informed, “Babies at high risk - because they have a severe form of the skin rash eczema or egg allergies - need a check-up before any peanut exposure, and might get their first taste in the doctor's office. Babies don't get whole peanuts or a big glob of peanut butter - those are choking hazards. Instead, the guidelines include options like watered-down peanut butter or easy-to-gum peanut-flavored "puff" snacks.”

"We're on the cusp of hopefully being able to prevent a large number of cases of peanut allergy," said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Dr. Greenhawt was member of the team that has suggested the new guidelines.

The guidelines recommend:

- All babies should try other solid foods before peanut-containing ones, to be sure they're developmentally ready.

- High-risk babies should have peanut-containing foods introduced as early as 4 to 6 months after a check-up to tell if they should have the first taste in the doctor's office, or if it's OK to try at home with a parent watching for any reactions.

- Moderate-risk babies have milder eczema, typically treated with over-the-counter creams. They should start peanut-based foods around 6 months, at home.

- Most babies are low-risk, and parents can introduce peanut-based foods along with other solids, usually around 6 months.

- Building tolerance requires making peanut-based foods part of the regular diet, about three times a week.