From snacking on peanuts during a long flight to making your kids a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, these nutty treats are a staple in many of our diets. Yet, over the past 10 years, peanut allergies have doubled in western countries and are now the leading cause of allergy-related deaths in the U.S.
With such a major increase in peanut allergies, it can be difficult for parents to know how to introduce the food into their child’s diet.
In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that parents wait to introduce peanuts and peanut butter, until their child is a year old. But, in 2019, new guidelines were released, stating parents should incorporate the food sooner – even as early as 4 to 5 months old. When babies were introduced to peanuts this early, only 1.9 percent developed an allergy; whereas, when parents waited until their child was 5, it increased to nearly 14 percent.
When starting solid foods, you may want to begin with options that have a low-allergy risk, such as infant cereal and puréed bananas or prunes. The AAP suggests that you introduce one food at a time and then wait at least two to three days before beginning another in order to see whether they have any allergic reactions. If they react well to most foods, you could then start to introduce more allergenic options, such as peanuts.
You may want to consider consulting with a pediatrician to determine how and when is best to introduce peanuts into your baby’s diet, especially if they have eczema or an immediate reaction to a certain type of food.
An allergic response to peanuts typically occurs within minutes after a child has been exposed. The signs and symptoms to watch for may include:
- Runny nose
- Hives, redness or swelling
- Itching or tingling around the mouth and throat
- Diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
- Tightening of the throat
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
In severe cases, a child can experience anaphylaxis, a medical emergency that causes restriction of the airways, swelling of the throat, a massive drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse and dizziness or loss of consciousness. This life-threatening reaction is most common for peanut allergies.
Click here to learn more about other common food allergies. If you have any further questions about peanut allergies or how to prevent them, talk with your child’s pediatrician.