You May Want to Add Peanuts to Your Baby’s Diet

New guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are urging parents to expose infants to peanuts in an effort to decrease the frequency of the allergy.

The institute recommends feeding babies food containing peanut powder or extract before 6 months old. This comes after years of suggesting children avoid peanuts as infants. But, when the number of children with peanut allergies increased by 1.5 percent in 10 years, researchers realized that strategy wasn’t working.

The new guidelines determine when and how to expose an infant to peanuts by each child’s risk classification. Researchers also recommend consulting your doctor before introducing peanuts into the diet.

Low-risk children are those without eczema or an egg allergy who have started solid foods. Mild-risk children have also started solid food, but have mild eczema. These two classes can begin eating foods with peanuts at home when they are around 6 months old.

But high-risk infants, those with severe eczema or egg allergy, should be introduced to peanut-containing food around 4 to 6 months. The guidelines also recommend these children be exposed after starting other solid foods and being evaluated by a doctor. They should also visit an allergy specialist.

No child 6 months or younger should be given whole or chopped peanuts because of the choking risk. Instead, parents should start with peanut puree.

Researchers hope that after several years of following these guidelines, the world will see a drop in the number of people affected by peanut allergies.

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