Peanuts and Babies
By now most of you have probably read or heard about the LEAP study (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy) which showed feeding of peanut products to infants between 4 mo and 11 months of age will actually decrease the risk of developing peanut allergies. The study only included infants at high risk of peanut allergy, having severe eczema, egg allergy or both and all were skin prick allergy tested prior to entering the study. In addition the first feeding of a smooth peanut butter spread (not whole peanuts or peanut butter that are potential choking hazards) was under direct medical supervision. Infants were fed the peanut butter spread at least three times per week.
All children enrolled in the study were evaluated at 5 years of age to see who had peanut allergies. In the group that had greater than a small positive test for peanut allergy at the beginning of study, and who were fed peanut, their rate of peanut allergy was 3% compared to 17% for the same group that avoided peanuts in their diet. In children with a small positive allergy test to peanuts at the beginning of study, and who were fed peanuts, there was a 70% reduction in peanut allergy compared to those who avoided peanuts. For those infants without a peanut allergy at the beginning of the study, and who were fed peanuts starting between 4 and 11 months of age, there was an 86% reduction in peanut allergy at age 5 years of age compared to those without a peanut allergy who avoided eating peanuts. So, feeding peanuts starting between 4 and 11 months of age resulted in significant reductions in peanut allergies at 5 years of age. Impressive!
Many questions remain after this study. First, there are no studies to support a specific ideal age of introduction of peanut for healthy children. In addition, peanuts and peanut products are a potential choking hazard for very young infants so the choice of peanut product needs to be discussed with your child’s doctor as well as age of first introduction. Most importantly, peanuts will never be a first food for babies, but could be incorporated into the diet of healthy children who have tried other first foods without difficulty and are ready to try peanut based foods without choking. So before you reach for the smooth peanut butter, talk to your child’s doctor.
MacKoul Pediatrics is an amazing local pediatrics office in Cape Coral, FL where caring, compassionate doctors and nurses work with you to keep your children as healthy as possible. MacKoul cares for children from birth to college age, from Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond.
March 13, 2015