New NIH guidelines recommend early exposure to peanuts in high risk babies

Many people suffer with food allergies through their lives, peanut allergy is the most common allergy in young children and the number of these allergies tripled in the US between 1997 and 2008. Peanut butter that had always been a staple in American lunch boxes is becoming less common and many schools are going “nut-free”, peanuts can cause a life-threatening reaction in some people. Though research by NIH shows that peanut allergy is not a life-long condition and 20% individuals with peanut allergy grow out of it in their lifetime.

Peanuts have been banned in many restaurants and places, because in some people it causes anaphylaxis, it can be a fatal condition if not treated immediately. Symptoms include dizziness, fainting, impaired breathing, blue lips and cardiac arrest. Less severe and non-fatal symptoms of peanut allergy are itchy skin and hives, nausea, and runny nose. But symptoms can vary from person to person and this allergy is difficult to diagnose. Therefore, it was advised to not feed toddlers and infants any peanuts.

But the new NIH guidelines suggest contrary of this previous belief, research believes that an early exposure to peanuts may stop the endemic of peanut allergies in the US. The new guidelines suggest that parents expose their kids to peanuts at 4-6 months old, the new research has sparked some positive responses, it shows that peanut consumption started in infancy results in the reduction of peanut allergy up to 81%, this reduction was also shown in high risk infants.

High risk infants are those with a family history of peanut allergy, babies with eczema can also develop peanut allergy, important to note is that high risk babies should have their first peanut-tasting at a doctor’s office when 4-6 months old. The new guidelines also suggest giving liquefied peanut butter at an infancy stage, regular peanut butter can be given to toddlers on solid foods. Peanut allergy is a serious concern for many, as they have to avoid it at all costs and must carry an emergency medication with them everywhere.


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