New research has shown that early introduction of peanut into the diet of infants at high risk for peanut allergy can actually decrease the risk of developing peanut allergy. In the past, allergists recommended avoiding peanut and other highly allergenic foods during infancy. Science suggested that delayed introduction of these foods would decrease the risk of developing food allergies. Unfortunately, that recommendation did not lead to the desired results, and we have seen a significant increase in food allergies over recent decades.
In 2015 a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that introducing peanut into the diet of infants at high risk of peanut allergy and feeding these infants peanut on a regular basis lead to an 80% reduction of peanut allergy at 5 years of age. This was a remarkable study and the results have changed how we approach the introduction of peanut. In January of 2017, an expert panel for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases published an addendum guideline which stated that introducing peanut-containing food during infancy may reduce the rate of peanut allergy. For many infants, peanut can be safely tried at home once they are developmentally ready for solid foods. However, for some infants who have other allergic problems (other food allergies, eczema) or have a family history of allergic concerns, they may be at higher risk of reacting to their first feeding of peanut. These infants may benefit from seeing an allergist before trying peanut. Based on the family history and the infant’s medical history, your allergist may decide to perform allergy testing to peanut and give the first feeding of peanut in the office under physician supervision.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local Allergy Partners office to discuss when you should introduce peanut into your infant’s diet. Your allergist can help you determine if your infant can safely try peanut at home or they should be seen prior to that first bite of peanut.
Dr. Christopher Copenhaver
Allergy Partners of Western North Carolina