Question

Food Allergies & Food Intolerance

How can I prevent my child from developing an allergy to peanuts?

A Answers (2)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    If you are looking to help prevent future children from developing severe peanut allergies, you may be wondering whether avoiding peanuts during pregnancy can help. If you have a strong family history of food allergies, you might consider it; otherwise, eating peanuts during pregnancy doesn't seem to have any effect on children's nut allergies. Once Baby is born, we recommend that you avoid eating foods that she is more likely to be allergic to based on family history and that you do not introduce solid foods until the baby is four months old, as there is some evidence to suggest an increased risk of allergies for kids who eat solid foods in the first four months. And if you have a strong family history of any kind of allergy, we recommend that you avoid giving your child peanut butter and peanut products until after the age of two. That includes avoiding peanuts until after your baby has finished breast feeding; weak but consistent evidence relates moms who eat peanuts and breast-feed to peanut allergies in their children.
  • APhilip J. Landrigan, MD, Occupational Therapy, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    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.
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