Peanut butter - childhood fave turned into childhood havoc?
The prevalence of childhood peanut allergies has certainly increased over the past decade, causing the allergen to leave an imprint on school standards and how food companies manufacture and label products. But with new research suggesting early introduction of peanut foods as a way to prevent the allergy, could the solution be at our fingertips?
The groundbreaking LEAP study made headlines some years ago, being the first to look at early introduction of peanuts to infants as a way of preventing the allergy. The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases then came out with guidelines around this research to help healthcare providers and parents use this information accordingly.
So what does this mean for you and your little one? Well if your baby is at risk of having a peanut allergy (those with severe eczema or an egg allergy), you should start with an allergy test. If a peanut allergy is in fact confirmed, early introduction of age-appropriate peanut products is recommended as early as 4-6 months. For those parents whose babies are not at risk, but who choose to avoid this top allergen in the first year of life, there's really no need. You can safely incorporate peanut products into the baby's diet as soon as solids are appropriate (at around 6 months as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics).
In either scenario it is important to avoid whole peanuts or chunky peanut butter, as these forms can be choking hazards. Mix smooth peanut butter into purees or infant cereals until entirely incorporated, or offer age-appropriate snacks made with peanuts.