NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Forget everything you know about peanut allergies. The government guidelines have changed drastically in the past year.
“Over the last several decades, the incidents of peanut allergies have gone up a lot. That’s a real thing.”
For years, parents were advised to wait until their children were three years old to introduce them to foods with peanuts. But, allergist Dr. Jonathan Bayuk told 22News that actually caused more people to develop an allergy. He said it’s due to the hygiene hypothesis that states people are more prone to develop an allergy the more they’re protected from germs after birth.
Now, the National Institutes of Health recommends babies, especially babies at high risk for allergy, eat a form of peanuts between the ages of 4 and 6 months.
“If you have a high risk child, so that’s a child with eczema, or already has a food allergy, you’re going to want to see an allergist, they’re going to be tested and then there’s going to be an introduction of peanuts using this protocol, early as possible 4 to 6 months,” said Dr. Bayuk.
This comes after years of giving high risk babies either a form of peanuts or a placebo in a study. Those who ate peanuts early on, were more than 80 percent less likely to develop an allergy.
Dr. Bayuk said it’s important to note that these recommendations only apply to peanuts, which are legumes, not real nuts like tree nuts. That means parents should not change the way they already test their children for allergies to tree nuts, eggs or even milk.
“I think it’s going to be very helpful and I’m so glad that they’re paying such great attention to this really severe problem so young kids don’t have to go to the ER,” said June Turcotte, an allergy patient from South Deerfield.
The NIH recommendation says parents should introduce low risk babies to peanuts around 6 months old. Don’t give children under 4 whole peanuts or they might choke.