In response to Father's Day, Anna Jane challenges me to celebrate Middle Child Day also.
Don’t really feed your infant peanuts. That would be bad. They’re significant choking hazards.
However, to reduce the risk of peanut allergies, a consensus statement (from 10 European and US medical organizations) released earlier this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now endorses feeding peanut-containing foods to infants between the ages of 4 to 11 months. This recommendation is based heavily on a British study that followed 640 babies considered high risk for developing peanut allergies. Starting in infancy, half the group avoided peanuts and the other half ate weekly, small amounts of a peanut protein. After 5 years, the group that ingested peanut products had 81 percent fewer allergies than the control group.
Since 1997, the incidence of peanut allergy has tripled. Current statistics show that 1 in 50 school aged children suffer from a peanut allergy. A severe nut allergy puts a child at risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially life threatening emergency. While many school prohibit nuts and most manufacturers put ingredients on labels, this increase in peanut allergy continues to grow as a prevalent concern for parents, administrators, and the medical field.
This new recommendation is a paradigm shift–and important news for “allergic” families and infants. For quite some time, the idea was to hold off on nuts until well after a first birthday.
The AAP (with the other governing medical societies) plans to offer more in-depth guidelines in the near future, but the current recommendation is that any high risk child should start peanut-containing foods at 4 months. “At risk” children include those with a previous severe reaction to egg products or who suffer from significant eczema. Any child in this category should see an allergist prior to starting peanut butter. In other words, until there is more data and clarity, a family still needs to speak with their pediatrician prior to starting peanut butter.
There it is–short and sweet. Ask your pediatrician for his or her thoughts.