May 22, 2017

NIH Issues Guidelines to Prevent Peanut Allergies

Many of the pieces we write have to do with products recalled for undeclared allergens. One of the most serious allergens is the peanut. Some people are so allergic to peanuts that a very tiny amount can produce anaphylactic shock or death.

Peanuts in Bowl

A panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of health, has issued clinical guidelines to help health care providers introduce peanut containing foods to infants to prevent peanut allergies.

Peanut allergies is a growing problem. Those with this allergy have to be vigilant about the foods they eat and even the environment around them to avoid peanuts and peanut products. Research has been showing that introducing peanuts and peanut-containing foods into an infant’s diet can prevent the development of this allergy.

The new Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in the Untied States provides three guidelines for infants who are at different levels of risk for developing this allergy. NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said, “We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by health care providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States.”

Addendum Guideline 1 is for infants who are at high risk for developing this allergy because they already have an allergy to eggs, severe eczema, or both. Those babies should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diet at 4 to 6 months to age. Of course, parents should check with their pediatrician before giving an infant any new food. The doctor may conduct an allergy blood test or another test to decide if this step is appropriate.

Addendum Guideline 2 suggests that infants with mild or moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced to them around 6 months of age. And Addendum Guideline 3 states that infants who do not have any food allergy or eczema be introduced to peanut-containing foods. The guidelines state that infants should be started on other foods before they are introduced to peanuts or peanut-containing foods.

Clinical trials on this topic in February 2015 showed that regular peanut consumption in infancy and continued until the child is 5 years old led to an 81% reduction in development of peanut allergy in infants at his risk. The randomized clinical trial was conducted using more than 600 babies. The trial was called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP).

Dr. Daniel Rostrosen, director of NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation said, “the LEAP study clearly showed that introduction of peanut early in life significantly lowered the risk of developing peanut allergy by age 5. The magnitude of the benefit and the scientific strength of the study raised the need to operationalize these findings by developing clinical recommendations focused on peanut allergy prevention.”

 

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