Food allergy mom helps parents overcome anxiety about early peanut introduction

When it comes to your children, you want to keep them safe, and have their best interest at heart. New guidelines recommend introducing peanut foods to infants as early as 4-6 months, which can be understandingly scary for parents.

In this Q&A Eleanor Garrow-Holding, President and CEO of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) and food allergy mom, shares her view and experience, to help ease parents’ fear.

As a food allergy parent yourself, can you understand parents’ fears about introducing peanuts early? What kind of impact will overcoming fear and introducing peanut early have on the child and family’s future quality of life?

Eleanor: As a parent of a child with multiple food allergies, I can understand the fear that a small amount of certain foods could harm my child. But, it’s important to remember that–especially if your baby is not in the high-risk category—that their risk for a reaction following the early introduction guidelines is low. And the impact on your child’s quality of life in the future without a peanut allergy could be great.

Why are the new guidelines important?

Eleanor: The new guidelines are important because they could potentially save thousands of children from developing a peanut allergy, which could change their quality of life. With food allergies on the rise in the past decade, preventing future diagnoses is very important. 

What is the one thing you want new parents to know about the early intro guidelines?

Eleanor: The early peanut introduction guidelines were developed after a rigorous study showed that early introduction of peanut foods can reduce the chance of developing a life-threatening food allergy by up to 86 percent. The conclusion is based on hard numbers and science-based data.

What would you say to a parent who may be hesitant to introduce peanut?

Eleanor: Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you think they may be at high risk (severe eczema or existing egg allergy, or both). It’s important to understand how scientific studies are performed and how data is analyzed and ask questions about how guidelines are formed.  If your doctor can’t answer these questions, find a board-certified allergist who can. Understanding the science behind the guidelines is vital, and can help with understanding of the benefits as well as the limitations of the current data.

Visit PreventPeanutAllergies.org for more information on the new guidelines, assessing your child’s risk, helpful tips for early introduction and baby-friendly recipes.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) has partnered with the National Peanut Board to spread awareness of the NIAID guidelines for the early introduction of peanut foods to prevent peanut allergy. Eleanor was not compensated for this article.

About Eleanor Garrow-Holding

As CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), Eleanor provides leadership, development, and implementation for all of FAACT’s initiatives and programs, including Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) – a summer camp for children with food allergies and their siblings that Eleanor founded in 2009. Eleanor serves on the National Peanut Board’s Allergy Education Advisory Council, Sea World’s Allergy Resource Team, and Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) Food Allergen Control Committee. In August 2015, Eleanor was inducted into The National Association of Professional Women’s (NAPW) VIP Professional of the Year Circle for her commitment to healthcare and nonprofit industries.