Decoding the new "prevention of peanut allergy" recommendations

Over the past several weeks I have received a lot of questions surrounding the new Clinical Guidelines for Prevention of Peanut Allergies issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).  You may have heard "introducing peanuts between 4-6 months of age can prevent peanut allergies."  It seems new research continues to be published surrounding food allergies.  

But let's look at the facts:

The new guidelines came from the 2015 LEAP Study, which focused on the prevention of food allergies in high risk infants.  The NIAID issued this summary for parents and caregivers, which broke infants into three categories and provided recommendations for introducing peanut containing products:

Guideline 1 states, "that if your infant has severe eczema, egg allergy, or both (conditions that increase the risk of peanut allergy), he or she should have peanut-containing foods introduced into the diet as early as 4 to 6 months of age."  The NIAID Strongly recommends evaluation by a medical professional to perform specific tests for this allergy.  Key takeaway: SPEAK WITH YOUR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL

Guideline 2, "suggests that if your infant has mild to moderate eczema, he or she may have peanut containing foods introduced into the diet around 6 months of age to reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy."  The use of the term "suggests" in this guideline shows that this recommendation is not as strict as guideline 1.  KEY TAKEAWAY: If your child falls into this category, start introducing peanut containing foods around 6 months to reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy.

Guideline 3,  "suggests that if your infant has no eczema or any food allergy, you can freely introduce peanut-containing foods into his or her diet."  This guideline goes on to state that "This can be done at home in an age-appropriate manner together with other solid foods, keeping in mind your family’s dietary routines and preferences."  

Bottom line?  If your child is at a higher risk of food allergies, speak with your health care provider before adding peanut containing products and they may recommend you begin these products between 4-6 months.  If your child is not at a high risk for food allergy, introduce peanut products when you feel comfortable.  Take a look at this post for ways to introduce peanut containing products in a safe way and environment.