The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) issued a series of guidelines this Thursday in which they recommend the inclusion of peanut into the newborn’s food regime to avoid a future allergy.
According to the new guidelines, the most efficient method to prevent a child of becoming allergic to peanut is to expose the kid to peanut-containing food at early stages of their life.
Currently, there is no cure for peanut allergy, a condition that it can vary from mild to severe and even life-threatening for any person, child or adult. The recommendations, published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, have the intention to raise awareness about this new way of prevention.
“We’re on the cusp of hopefully being able to prevent a large number of cases of peanut allergy,” said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, a member of the National Institutes of Health panel that was in charge of making the recommendations.
The peanut allergy is one of the worst food allergies there is, as the affected and their relatives must be aware of all the content of the meals every day, as well as being vigilant of the environment to avoid any complication.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), about 1 or 2 percent of children suffer the peanut allergy. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) consider this disease as one “growing health problem” since there is no effective treatment beyond precaution. At least until today.
How was the study made?
The NIH conducted a particular study regarding the causes of the peanut allergy and when did this condition start its appearance in newborns.
The researchers from the NIAID carried out a clinical trial called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP). In this investigation, more than 600 infants that presented a high risk to develop peanut allergy were included. Among the conditions that these babies had, there was eczema, egg allergy, or even both diseases.
The research team proceeded to separate the children into two random groups. In one of the groups, scientists ordered their parents to feed the kids with peanut-containing meals on a regular basis, while in the other group, researchers ordered a complete restriction of any peanut-based food. This experiment was done until all kids turned five years old.
When the investigation team started their analysis concerning the results, they came to the conclusion that the regular consumption of peanut-containing meals in the early stages of the life a child can prevent the development of the peanut allergy condition in 81 percent of the cases.
The strength of the LEAP study results forced the NIAID, the NIH, and other 25 federal agencies and specialized organizations to produce a medical practice guideline that could fulfill the conclusions given by the study.
This body of recommendations is called the “Addendum Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy in the United States” and is directly based on the LEAP results along with other recent studies regarding this condition.
This guideline was approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this Thursday through Dr. Scott Sicherer, who was the representative of the AAP at the expert panel in charge of developing the prevention guideline.
Guidelines: How can I avoid the risk of peanut allergy in my child?
According to the conclusions that the specialized panel of experts from the NIAID, there are three different approaches regarding the recommendations, as they change according to the conditions that every kid could have before experiencing the peanut allergy itself.
The first guideline is oriented to children that have severe eczema, egg allergy, or even both conditions. There is scientific evidence that proves that those conditions increase the risk of developing a peanut allergy. Because of this reason, parents should consult with their pediatrician first and even perform an allergy blood test before they introduce any peanut-containing meal into the kid’s diet.
In the case the child’s personal pediatrician diagnoses that there is no risk, parents can begin feeding the kid with regular doses of peanut foods. The suggested age to made this is between four and six months of age. The meals should consist in watered-down peanut butter or easy to chew peanut snacks.
The second guideline is for those kids that suffer from moderate eczema. In this case, parents could introduce peanut meals as soon as six months of age of the child. However, the experts consider that this inclusion of peanut must be made in relation with the family’s dietary routine, as they should not feel compelled because of the recommendations from the guidelines.
The third case is for those kids that do not suffer any condition that could increase the risk of developing the peanut allergy condition. In this opportunity, experts say that parents are free to introduce peanut-based foods in their diet regime, following the recommendations from the second guideline.
“It’s an important step forward. When you do desensitize them from an early age, you have a very positive effect,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.