New research claims that giving your child soft peanut butter between the ages of four and six months can “reduce peanut allergies.”
The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, says there is a “clear opportunity” of exposing babies to peanuts — in regular or baby-friendly form.
This, in turn, could reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy by as much as 77%.
On the other hand, waiting until the child’s first birthday to include products containing the ingredient in their diet would only lead to a 33% reduction.
According to Allergy UK, peanut allergy affects one in 50 children in the UK and the number is on the rise.
Because symptoms can range from mild (such as a runny nose or itchy tongue) to severe anaphylaxis — which can be fatal if epinephrine isn’t administered — feeding babies legumes can be a daunting prospect for parents.
How do you know if your child has a food allergy?
Allergic reactions usually occur very quickly, within minutes of exposure.
Previous advice also recommended avoiding peanuts, which “understandably led to parental anxiety about early introduction,” said Professor Graham Roberts, who led the study.
He said encouraging parents to introduce babies to peanuts could be a “simple, low-cost intervention” that would have “huge benefits” for future generations.
If you’re considering letting your child try them, here’s how to do it as safely as possible.
Should You Feed Your Baby Peanuts?
Whole nuts and peanuts should not be given to children under the age of five due to the potential choking hazard.
However, official guidelines state that you can “feed your baby nuts and peanuts from around six months of age” as long as they are crushed, ground, or in the form of a smooth butter.
You may be concerned about a possible allergic reaction, so it’s best to start with caution.
When it comes to introducing your baby to solid foods, the NHS recommends feeding foods that can cause allergic reactions ‘one at a time’ and in very small amounts.
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In addition, if there is a family history of allergies, asthma, hay fever or eczema, you should consult your GP or health care adviser before introducing tree nuts and peanuts.
Once it is clear that your child can tolerate these foods, it is important to keep them in their diet to minimize the risk of allergies.
It’s also important to remember that unlike allergies to milk or eggs, peanut allergies are generally lifelong. This means anyone caring for your child should know what to avoid, how to recognize a reaction, and what to do if one occurs.
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