Peanut allergies and babies
November 15, 2019
Our next blog is by Yixi Wang, Master of Nutrition and Population Health, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University. Yixi worked in the food and wine industry for four years and was motivated by nutrition science, where she obtained the Intermediate Certificate of Nutritionist in China.
For some babies, consumption of peanuts before 12 months of age may reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy.
What is allergy
An allergy is when our body’s immune system reacts to proteins in food like peanuts. Symptoms can include hives, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a life- threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
The rise of allergies in children
The prevalence of allergies in children is increasing. It is estimated that food allergy affects 4- 8% of young children. The reasons for the rise of allergies are linked to modern lifestyles, including increased cesarean section delivery, improved sanitation, the widespread use of antibiotics, increased rates of immunisation, and the delayed introduction of allergenic foods in babies.
Early introduction of peanuts
It is now believed that early introduction of peanuts in some babies, rather than avoidance, may actually provide protection from developing peanut allergy.
In a study with infants at high risk for allergy, one group consumed and the other avoided peanuts until 60 months of age. The early introduction of peanuts reduced the number of children who developed a peanut allergy.
In a large study of 2124 children, delaying the introduction of peanuts beyond the first year of life increased the likelihood of children developing an allergy to peanuts.
These studies provide some interesting findings which suggest that early introduction of peanuts may provide protection from developing peanut allergy. If you have any questions about allergies and your baby, please see your general practitioner, or refer to this resource on peanut allergy and introducing solids to babies.