One of the most significant advances in food allergy occurred with the release of the results from The Learning Early about Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study in early 2015.  Led by Dr. Gideon Lack of Kings College in London, LEAP showed a reduction in the development of peanut allergies of up to 86 percent by children who were exposed to peanut protein early.Dr. Shahzad Mustafa, allergist and medical advisory board chair for FAACT, discusses the early introduction guidelines in this video.

The results led experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) to rethink how we approach food allergy prevention. NIAID’s new guidelines now recommend introducing peanut protein to infants as early as 4-6 months of age, depending on risk factors – including family history and signs of eczema.

The NIAID guidelines also provide parents with simple ways to introduce peanut protein to babies and recommendations for how frequently infants who are at-risk for peanut allergy should eat peanut foods (at least 3 times per week). If a baby isn’t at risk for peanut allergy, parents can offer peanut foods as often as they would like.

Here are points to consider as you plan to introduce peanut protein to your infant:

    • The American Academy of Pediatrics’ infant feeding recommendations encourage breastfeeding for one year, with complementary solid foods being introduced around 4-6 months of age.
    • Young children should not be given whole peanuts or unmodified peanut butter, because of the potential to cause choking. Instead, think about thinned peanut butter, peanut puffs or powdered peanut butter as options.
    • According to a study looking at the nutrition status of infants in the LEAP study, those who ate peanut foods early had growth parameters that were statistically similar to those who did not eat peanut foods early and they breastfed at the same rates; however, they ate less carbohydrates.
    • It is important to remember that most children, more than 98%, will not have a peanut allergy. Consider your child’s risk based on the new guidelines and move forward with feeding your child confidently.
    • As always, your child’s specific dietary needs should be discussed with a pediatrician.

Podcasts

In the podcasts below, Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, discusses the latest research on peanut allergies, including instructions on how and when to introduce peanut foods to infants.

These videos can help

 



Recipes

 

* (LEAP) DuToit G, Roberts G, Sayre PH, Bahnson HT, Radulovic S, Santos AF, et al. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. N Engl J Med. 2015;372:803-13.