My first-born child is almost 12. When I was pregnant with her, the advice from the medical community was to stay away from peanuts during pregnancy and not to feed them to your child until the age of 2 or 3. Adhering to this, I did not eat any peanuts nor give them to my infant daughter. Fast-forward to when she was 18 months old, was having some symptoms that prompted food allergy testing — the results showed allergies to eggs, avocado and cashews (all of which I ate a lot of while pregnant), but not peanuts. Phew, I thought, at least not peanuts.
And then I still didn’t give her peanuts. We were avoiding all nuts due to her cashew and some other nut allergies, so giving peanuts seemed uncomfortable I guess. But two years after that first skin-prick test, at age 3 1/2, she tested positive for peanuts, after never having eaten one in her life.
Now, the medical community believes that was the problem — not being exposed to peanuts early in life. In fact, the current recommendation is to give your child peanuts (please consult your own doctor before giving your child peanuts). Our pediatrician told me that it is indeed strange to be giving the opposite advice to her patients than she had been giving for so many years.
The conclusions of a February 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine were that “The early introduction of peanuts significantly decreased the frequency of the development of peanut allergy among children at high risk for this allergy and modulated immune responses to peanuts.” Studies of Israeli children had prompted the focus on the rates of peanut allergy here in the United States. It was hypothesized that that the very low rates of peanut allergy in Israeli children were a result of high levels of peanut consumption beginning in infancy because Israeli children begin consuming peanut-containing snacks (a product called Bamba) early in life. I was fascinated to learn that there is now a new peanut-based food product for babies called Hello, Peanut!, designed by a U.S. doctor to reduce the occurrence of peanut allergies in infants.
I would love to know — when did you give your child peanuts for the first time and does he/she have a peanut allergy?
None of the above content is meant to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your physician before giving any peanut product to your child.