Peanut Allergy Advice Turnaround?

Cynthia Dermody
2

When my son was born five years ago, my pediatrician at the time told me to keep him from eating peanuts till he was 2. When my daughter arrived a year and a half later, my ped told me the rule had changed--keep her away from peanuts until she's 3. Okay, I got it. The exact age was fuzzy. The important thing was to keep my kids away from high allergy foods as much as possible.

Now I'm really confused. A new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that someday doctors may throw the avoidance advice out the window.

The study suggests that the earlier the kids are exposed to peanuts, the better. Children who shunned peanuts in infancy and early childhood were 10 times as likely to develop peanut allergy as those who were exposed to the legume. I heard pretty much the same thing about drinking more milk to combat dairy allergies just a few days ago.

Can everyone please make up their minds?

I know, I know. Allergies are complicated, no one knows what really causes them, and it takes a long time to figure stuff out. But these medical 180s are just so frustrating, especially when they directly affect my children. Kinda like the whole sleep position thing. When I was born every baby had to sleep on their stomachs; today only back-sleeping is safe. But now there is an increase in the number of babies with flat heads ...

But back to the peanuts ... all this came about when researchers compared children in Israel and England, where the prevalence of peanut allergy is much higher. About 70 percent of all Israeli children eat peanuts by 9 months of age, compared to just 10 percent in England.

Of course, you as a parent shouldn't change anything you're doing right now. Keep heeding your doctor's advice, which is most likely to avoid allergic foods. These are preliminary studies, and if I were to bet, those researchers will probably change their minds yet again.

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