Peanut allergies are becoming more common and there is no treatment or cure, aside from jabbing yourself with an EpiPen and seeking emergency care if you have a severe reaction. The allergy tends to develop in childhood and people generally don’t outgrow it, though recent research shows that giving peanut-containing foods to infants can prevent the development of peanut allergies altogether. Today, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases totally reversed current thinking by issuing clinical guidelines for introducing peanuts to kids’ diets before they’re six months old.
Previously, parents of children at high risk of a peanut allergy were told not to give them any peanut-containing products until age 3. Per the new guidelines, infants fall into three categories based on their allergy risk. If they have severe eczema, egg allergy, or both, they face an increased risk of peanut allergy and should eat peanut-containing foods (things with peanut powder or extract, or thinned peanut butter) as early as 4 to 6 months in consultation with your doctor to make sure they haven’t already developed an allergy. If they have mild or moderate eczema, they can eat peanutty things around 6 months after they’ve started eating solid foods. Same goes for kiddos with no allergies.
Whole peanuts are a no-no as they can be a choking hazard, and one of the authors of the new guidelines told the New York Times that peanut products shouldn’t be the first solid food a baby eats. Straight PB is also a choking hazard so parents can mix a few teaspoons of smooth peanut butter in a little warm water to make a puree. You can also try a puffed corn snack made with peanuts called Bamba, which is popular in Israel and was studied in 2015. The guidelines’ co-author said consistency is important and parents should aim to feed high-risk kids peanut products three times a week throughout childhood to build tolerance.
Doctors believe the new guidelines could prevent tens of thousands of kids from developing peanut allergies, and let’s face it: No one should have to live a life without peanut-butter cups.