Thinking about food allergies in children can be scary. As parents, we never want to do anything that will put our children’s lives at risk, but we also want to give them a varied and healthy diet. Peanuts are known as a common food allergen in children, so they cause particular concern for conscientious parents.
In the past, medical professionals advised parents of children who were considered high-risk for peanut allergies to avoid any peanut-containing food until the toddler years. However, this advice has been proven to be misguided. New research shows that introducing high-risk infants to peanuts earlier is the best way to reduce the chance of allergy development.
To know when is the best time to introduce peanut-based foods to your child, you must first identify their risk level for developing a peanut allergy:
- High Risk – 4 to 6 months
Your child is considered at high risk for developing a peanut allergy if they have severe eczema, an allergy to a food other than peanuts, or a relative with a peanut allergy. If any of these are true for your child, consult with an allergist before introducing any peanut-based foods. NIAID guidelines state that introducing peanuts to high-risk children early, between 4-6 months old, is the best way to decrease the risk of the child developing a peanut allergy. However, your allergist may need to do a test before you introduce peanuts. This is especially important for infants with food allergy to eggs or more severe eczema.
- Moderate Risk – 6-12 months
Children with mild to moderate eczema or a family history of allergies without other risk factors are in the moderate-risk group for developing a peanut allergy. Peanuts should be introduced around 6 months in this group. If it is not customary for your family to eat peanut-based foods this young, don’t feel obligated to do so. Instead, you can introduce these foods in accordance with your family’s dietary customs.
- Low Risk – as appropriate for family dietary customs
Most children are in the low-risk group, meaning they do not have eczema, other food allergies, or relatives with peanut allergies. For these children, peanuts can be introduced whenever it is customary for the family and dietary practices.
Peanut Allergy Testing and Treatment in Tampa Bay
We always advise that parents schedule an appointment if they have any concerns about peanuts or any other allergens. If you live in Tampa Bay and need a skilled allergist for you or your children, contact Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay at (813) 971-9743 or contact us online. We offer a full array of food allergen testing and treatment for people of all ages.