Healthy Living: Peanut allergies

CHAMPAIGN--

Leia Flure Registered Dietitian with University of Illinois Extension Office joins us for Healthy Living to talk about peanut allergies. 

Food allergies are a big concern for parents these days – especially peanut allergies. It seems like we all know someone who has a peanut allergy, but how common is it really?

• Only about 1.5% of young children are affected. But for those who are allergic to peanuts, it can be very dangerous.

• The prevalence of peanut allergy has doubled over the past 10 years in countries that have advocated avoiding of peanuts during pregnancy, lactation and infancy New guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease recommend introducing peanut to infants as early as 4-6 months.

Where did this new recommendation come from?

• Prevalence of peanut allergy among Jewish children in London was 10 times higher than the prevalence of peanut allergy among Jewish children in Israel

• Israeli parents very commonly give their babies a snack called Bamba – which has a texture similar to Cheetos puffs, but is peanut butter flavored

• Researchers to conduct a large, randomized controlled study to get more evidence that eating peanuts early in life helps prevent allergies

• Two groups of kids – those who ate peanut-containing foods at least three times per week, and those who did not. All of the children were at high risk for developing peanut allergy.

• Comparing these two groups – regular consumption of peanut foods early on decreased the risk of developing peanut allergy by 81%! So based on the strength of the study’s results, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease worked with 25 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups to develop clinical practice guidelines.

NIAID Peanut Introduction Guidelines:

• Infants with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both: 4-6 months

• Infants with mild to moderate eczema: ~6 months • Infants without eczema or egg allergy: Introduce freely • Talk to your healthcare provider if there are any questions about your child’s risk

So what are some good ways to introduce peanuts to infants? My favorite ways to introduce peanuts to infants (adapted from the National Peanut Board):

1. Thin 2 teaspoons of peanut butter with 2 teaspoons water and serve on a spoon.

2. Blend 2 teaspoons of peanut butter OR powdered peanut butter into 2-3 tablespoons of soft/pureed foods like infant cereal, applesauce, or yogurt

3. Try a peanut-containing snack (such as Bamba) that breaks down easily in an infant’s mouth Remember – no whole nuts should be given until children are 5 years old. Bigger lumps or dollops of peanut butter should not be given until children are 4. (You can spread it on toast or banana)


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