Consensus for Early Peanut Exposure in High-Risk Infants
Interim guidance issued in response to study finding exposure lowered chances of allergy by 80 percent
MONDAY, Aug. 31, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Infants at high risk for peanut allergies should be given foods containing peanuts before they reach the age of 1 year, according to a new consensus statement from 10 medical groups. The statement was published online Aug. 31 in Pediatrics.
The interim guidance was issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other expert groups in response to a study published in February that found early exposure to peanut products reduced the risk of a peanut allergy developing by 80 percent. When the study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lead researcher Gideon Lack, M.B., B.Ch., from the department of pediatric allergy at King's College London, noted that introducing peanut products early was safe and well tolerated. Infants were not given whole peanuts because of the risk of choking.
Lack and colleagues selected 640 infants, aged 4 months to 11 months, who were at high risk of developing peanut allergy. The infants were randomly selected either to eat at least 6 grams of peanuts in food served three or more times a week, or to avoid peanut products until they were 5. Lack said that even some children who could not tolerate peanuts developed some immunity. Overall, at age 5, the prevalence of peanut allergy in all children who ate peanut products was 3.2 percent, compared with 17.2 percent among those who avoided foods or snacks with peanuts in them, the researchers found.
Lack recommended that infants at risk for peanut allergy have a skin test at 4 months of age. If the test is clear, they should be given peanut products regularly until 5 years of age. If the skin test shows a reaction to peanut, then they should have a challenge to peanut under a doctor's supervision. If they tolerate it, then they should continue eating peanut products. If they cannot tolerate the challenge, then they will need treatment to manage the allergy, Lack told HealthDay