Forget everything you’ve ever learned about slowly introducing peanuts to your baby, because according to Subhadra Siegel, MD, pediatric allergist and immunologist at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), the recommendation to avoid peanuts with babies is a thing of the past.
“The old recommendation was to avoid peanuts and nuts until the age of 3, but there was no data to support that this reduced allergies,” Dr. Siegel explains. “The new recommendation, which came out in January 2017, is to introduce peanuts as early as 7 to 11 months.”
According to Siegel, this change followed a brand-new study of infants who were identified as high-risk for peanut allergies (those with eczema or a pre-existing allergy to other foods). The study found that when these children were introduced to peanut products at 4 to 11 months of age, the incidence of peanut allergy was reduced 70% to 90%. “It’s the biggest change we’ve had in allergy protocol in years, perhaps ever,” Dr. Siegel says.
Here are Dr. Siegel’s tips on introducing peanut products to babies:
- If your child is low-risk for allergies, go ahead and introduce peanut products at home as early as possible, along with other first foods.
- If your child is high-risk, have your child tested for peanut allergy.
- Even if your child tests positive for a peanut allergy, it may be a false positive. Consider having your child eat peanuts with his or her pediatrician present. If everything is okay, continue to offer peanut products early as a preventive strategy.