Can Parents Help Their Kids Avoid Peanut Allergies? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on March 19, 2015

Can Parents Help Their Kids Avoid Peanut Allergies?

Peanuts are one of the leading causes
of food allergy reactions and can be fatal

Peanut allergies affect a lot of people – about 2.8 million Americans to be exact, with about 400,000 of those being school-aged children. It has become such a prevalent allergy in children that many schools across the country have become nut free in order to avoid any life-threatening allergic reactions.

As awareness about this allergy in children has risen in recent years, so has the number of reported peanut allergy cases. The prevalence of peanut allergies has spiked in the past 13 years, from 0.4 percent in 1997 to 2 percent in 2010.

But, what if you could help your child avoid the allergy in the first place? A new study published in New England Journal of Medicine is suggesting that it possible. It reports that this allergy may be prevented at a young age by embracing peanuts rather than avoiding them. Specifically, the risk of developing the allergy may be reduced by 80 percent if high-risk infants eat peanut products as a baby.

Since peanuts are one of the leading causes of food allergy reactions and can be fatal, it would be comforting for parents to help their children avoid this altogether.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should start slipping your 1 year old peanut butter; parents should hold off on introducing peanuts to their children. Allergy specialists warn that peanut consumption in high-risk infants should only be done after medical assessment.

It’s understandable that parents would want to proactively prevent their child from developing a peanut allergy. Having a child with a peanut allergy can be a lot of work and worry. But, as inconvenient as it is, it’s important to realize that being allergic to peanuts is not necessarily something they have to worry about for the rest of their lives. Research by the National Institutes of Health found that about 20 percent of people with a peanut allergy eventually outgrow it.

While this new study is fascinating, it’s important that parents don’t overreact, take matters into their own hands, and cause more harm in the process.

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