Peanut allergy, a life-threatening allergic reaction, affects between 1 and 1.5 percent of the population. We don’t know much about why some children develop this allergy, but some experts think that providing peanut products to children as young as 1 year old may cause them to develop sensitivities that erupt as full-blown peanut allergies later in childhood.
So what, if anything, can you do to help prevent peanut allergy in your children? You may wish to:
Skip the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for the under-3-year-old crowd. The jury is still out on whether eating peanut butter at an early age triggers later peanut allergies. However, if your child develops a peanut allergy, it has the potential to be deadly.
Avoid peanuts if you’re pregnant. Some researchers think peanut allergy may develop later if the fetus is exposed to peanuts via mom while in utero. Again, research on this idea is very preliminary at this time, but you may want to take this prudent avoidance approach.
If your child is allergic to peanut products, learn everything you can about how to protect her. You must be extremely cautious that she doesn’t eat anything that contains peanuts or peanut oil, as many food products contain one or both of these ingredients. Your pediatrician and local support groups are good places to start for information on protecting your child from exposure.