The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is endorsing a recommendation that infants at high risk of peanut allergies be given foods containing peanuts before their first birthday.
This new advice is the result of a major allergy study published earlier this year that found that exposure to peanuts in infancy seemed to help build tolerance — contrary to conventional thinking that peanuts should be avoided until children are older.
Children are considered at high risk if they’ve had a previous allergic reaction to eggs or experienced a severe eczema skin rash. Parents should consult their pediatricians before beginning peanut exposure.
For the study, researchers in Britain followed 640 babies, 4 months to 11 months old, who were considered at high risk of developing peanut allergies. One group avoided peanuts; the others ate a small amount of peanut protein or peanut butter every week. After five years, the group that ate peanut products had 81 percent fewer peanut allergies than the group that didn’t.
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