Sunday, November 2, 2008

Avoiding Peanut Allergies

I know several of my pediatricians have told me not to give my children peanut butter or peanut products until they are older. That recommendation was based on the fear that my sons could be allergic to peanuts and go into anaphylactic shock. I interview a mom whose daughter has severe allergies to peanuts and eggs.

It was scary to listen to her talk about all the food that contains those ingredients. Her daughter can have a severe reaction from touching a table that used to have peanut butter on it or eating a whole wheat noodle that was made a factory that also makes egg noodles. This new research might change give us an insight on how to try and prevent food allergies, but it is bound to be controversial!

From ABC: New research challenges current medical recommendations to new mothers regarding the risk of peanut allergies in babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children not be exposed to peanuts until age three to lower their odds of developing an allergy. But a new study finds children not exposed to peanuts at an early age had the greater allergy risk.

Peanut allergies are on the rise in many developed countries, but researchers have yet to pin down the reasons why. One popular theory is that exposure to peanuts at a young age may cause a child's immune system to over-react and thus trigger the allergy. But new research challenges that theory, suggesting avoiding peanuts could even be raising children's allergy risk.

Researchers compared Jewish school children in Israel to Jewish school children in Great Britain, reasoning they should have similar genetics and similar economic backgrounds. But the two groups differed greatly on peanut eating - 69% of Israeli children had tried peanuts by the age of 9 months, compared to 10% of those in the UK.

And it was the Israeli children who had the lower chance of peanut allergy. Overall, kids who avoided peanuts in infancy were 10 times as likely to develop an allergy as those who were exposed to peanuts.

Experts suggest that future studies should test whether peanut consumption in infancy can reliably lower allergy risk.

Source: published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

So this makes me wonder what parents are supposed to do. There seems to be no clear cut answer as to what is causing this surge in peanut and other allergies. When did you first feed your child peanut products/eggs?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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Maria said...

I introduced eggs to my son around 12 months, and peanut butter around 18 months. He did not show signs of allergy to either, and eggs are a favorite food of his.

I think that each family needs to consider their history of allergies, etc to determine when it is best to introduce foods. Certainly science can offer some insight, but they result in norms, not a perfect fit for everyone.

ryansmom said...

My son is allergic to peanuts and eggs as well as other foods like dairy, soy and corn. He had his first allergic reaction when he was 5 weeks old. Yes, you heard that right. 5 weeks old. He actually reacted to the foods that I was eating when he was a nursing infant.
He is almost 4 years old now and still highly allergic to all these foods.
There is a lot of conflicting research out there that suggests a parent should take one approach or another in regards to introducing food to their young ones. This can understandably cause much confusion about what a parent is to do.
I think it is important to consider the research but also the family history of allergies when making decisions.
In our case, family history plays a huge role. When I give birth to our second child in June 09, allergies will definitely be on my radar. We don't know what we have yet to face with the new one in regards to allergies. I pay attention to the latest research, but our decisions about when to introduce foods to the new baby will weigh heavily on family history.

i do not know me said...

We should do what we have done for millennia: nothing special. I don't remember kids dying left and right from anaphylactic shock in the 1950s during the heart of the baby boom.

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