Certainly over the past two decades peanut allergy has become the rave across the nation - in our homes, in our schools, and in our office. As it should be. Peanut allergy is dangerous and represents the leading cause of allergy death in the United States. There seems to be ever changing recommendations regarding the appropriate timing and introduction of peanut-based foods into the diet.
In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that children at risk for peanut allergy should avoid eating peanut products until age three. However, upon reevaluation in 2008, the AAP dropped this recommendation. As you may have heard, very interesting research has recently come out of the United Kingdom that supports early introduction of peanut based foods into the diet in order to prevent peanut allergy. Essentially the study showed that children who were exposed to peanut products earlier in life has less incidence of peanut allergy than those who delayed ingestion of peanut products. Sounds a bit upside down, right?
Thankfully, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has new guidelines to help pediatricians, allergists, and families safely introduce peanut products to our infants and children. I would encourage you to read these guidelines utilizing the link below. For babies at high risk of peanut allergy (severe eczema and/or egg allergy) early testing for peanut allergy is recommended. Because peanuts are sometimes recommended in this high-risk group as early as 4 to 6-months of age, testing before hand is important.
As always, it is never recommended that parents given infants whole peanuts or chunks of peanut as this represents a choking risk. Peanut products that can be given to babies include smooth peanut butter or a peanut puree. As always, check with your pediatrician or allergist before ever giving peanut based foods to children.
See these links for more detailed information on peanut allergy