Large-scale studies have shown that early introduction of peanuts in the form of powder or puree in children’s diets reduces the likelihood of allergies, but scientists have previously said otherwise.
In recent years, research has shown that problems caused by peanut allergies can be prevented in several ways. A major study in 2015 brought a breakthrough in this area and influenced the worldwide recommendations, which reached us only a few years later.
Allergy to peanuts in a child – research
Peanut allergy can have serious consequences, no other allergy leads to so many deaths of children from breathing problems. Earlier guidelines recommended keeping walnut children as long as possible, in the US the ban lasted until the age of three. However, experts noted a significant increase in allergic reactions – over the past ten years, it has quadrupled, it was decided to find a different approach.
Thus, modern research has helped to discover another interesting fact – the risk of allergies to any product is significantly less when a woman consumes allergens during pregnancy and adds them to the first complementary foods when its time is right.
The starting point was the difference between Jewish children in Israel and the UK. In the latter country, they turned out to be 10 times higher, which cannot be explained by differences in genetic or socio-economic background. The main discrepancy between them was that the children of Israel from an early age consumed products containing peanuts.
After revealing the fact, scientists from Kings College proved it in a large-scale form, and the guess turned out to be correct. The result was as follows – it is necessary to introduce peanuts, but within reasonable limits, without delaying until the age of three.
Clinical trials in England
The study group consisted of 640 children aged 4 to 11 years with severe eczema or egg allergy, which is relatively common, especially in children under one year old. The group was divided into two cohorts based on the results of the test for existing sensitivity to peanuts. Among them, 530 children showed no reaction.
Then, the groups were split up again, with one half receiving peanut protein from an early age and the other half not. Result: Of 530 children who did not have a previous reaction, 1.9% developed an allergy by the age of 5. In the reaction group, the percentage was higher – 13.7%.
Information quickly spread around the world. If the child was not susceptible to peanuts (but had another allergy), you seem to have increased the chance of a reaction by a factor of 7 by eliminating the nut in the first year.
When to introduce peanuts to a child
Parents reacted differently to the American recommendations, especially after personal experience when the child began to choke on one gram of the substance. However, no children participating in the studies were harmed, but there were cases of first aid, after all, the group consisted exclusively of children at high risk of allergies or already existing. Almost every child had to be urgently treated once during the examination.
However, the number of emergencies was comparable in both groups (4527 versus 4287 times). According to the researchers, peanuts in the diet did not pose a significant risk, while the positive effects were quite noticeable. At the same time, the doctor may decide not to give the child peanuts if the test showed that the baby is very sensitive to them. In other words, before you offer a nut, you need to be sure that it will not bring negative aspects with it.
The recommended amount by Americans for pure protein is six grams per week, divided into three doses after the fourth month of life. One way to include peanuts in baby food is to mix soft peanut butter (so it doesn’t have peanut chunks in it!) with water until smooth. Another option is peanut protein powder, which is less available on the market.
Based on all the data obtained, peanuts can and should be administered, but after consultation with a pediatrician.