Introducing Peanuts to Infants

FDA makes statement on introducing peanuts to infants at risk of peanut allergy

(RxWiki News) The time health experts are saying you should introduce peanuts into your infant's diet may surprise you.

That's because new findings are supporting the introduction of peanuts to infants' diets at a younger age.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Introducing foods that pose the risk of a significant allergic reaction can be tricky. And the number of infant food allergies appears to be rising.

In the United States, peanut allergy is the leading cause of death related to food-induced anaphylaxis, making this food allergy one of the most dangerous. So it's no surprise that new parents are often unsure of when to introduce peanuts into their baby's diet.

Further confusing the matter, many health care providers once advised parents not to introduce peanut-containing foods to children under the age of 3 if they were at high risk for peanut allergy.

New evidence-based guidelines recommend that health care providers consider a different approach. A recent clinical trial found that introducing foods that contain smooth peanut butter to infants as early as 4 months of age — even those who are at high risk of developing a peanut allergy (those with severe eczema, egg allergy or both) — actually reduced the risk of a peanut allergy by about 80 percent.

Based on this finding, the National Institutes of Health issued new guidelines in January. These new guidelines recommend that parents of infants with severe eczema, egg allergy or both introduce peanut-containing foods into the infants' diet as early as 4 to 6 months old.

However, the guidelines say parents should speak with their child's health care provider before introducing peanut-containing foods in order to determine whether the child needs to undergo an allergy test and whether the introduction of peanut-containing foods should be conducted under a doctor's supervision.

It's important to note that whole peanuts are considered a choking hazard and therefore should not be given to young children.

In the near future, some food labels will include a "qualified health claim" that agrees with the advice about introducing peanuts, according to the FDA. The health claim reads, "For most infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy who are already eating solid foods, introducing foods containing ground peanuts between 4 and 10 months of age and continuing consumption may reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy by 5 years of age.”

This claim is based on one study. The FDA will continue to monitor data on peanut allergies. If any new finding changes what health experts know about peanut allergies, the FDA will reassess the claim.

Speak with your health care provider about infant food allergies.