New advice issued in America says parents should introduce peanut to their baby as soon as possible

Babies should be given peanut from four months old in order to reduce the risk of allergy, according to new guidance in the US. This risk can be cut by more than 80% with early exposure.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said; “We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by healthcare providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States.”

Levels of peanut allergy have soared in the US, quadrupling since 2008, with similar patterns across Asia and Africa. Previous advice has been to wait until the child is at least three years old.

The guidance is as follows:

  • Children with other allergies or severe eczema should start on peanut-containing foods at between four and six months old, with medical supervision
  • Babies with mild eczema should have peanut-containing food at about six months old
  • Those with no eczema or allergies can have peanut-containing food freely introduced

Prof Alan Boobis, from Imperial College London, said; “The previous view that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods decreases the risk of food allergy is incorrect and… if anything, the exclusion or delayed introduction of specific allergenic foods may increase the risk of allergy to the same foods, including peanut.”

Nevertheless, the advice in the UK is still being reviewed, and parents should follow NHS guidelines for now. Young children should also not eat whole peanuts, due to the risk of choking.

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