There’s a good chance that if you have any school-age children, you’ve had to deal with a peanut aware classroom or even a peanut free school.
The reason behind that is that there are about one in every 13 children that have allergies of some kind, according to FARE or Food Allergy Research & Education. They estimate that about three million Americans have a food allergy to peanuts and tree nuts, with the number of children diagnosed with these allergies tripling between 1997 and 2008.
Old Thoughts on Introducing Peanuts
This has led to growing concern over food allergies that typically call for children not to be exposed to peanuts until they are much older, especially those that are at high risk for peanut allergies.
As recently as 2000, it was believed that parents should wait until their child turned three to introduce peanuts to their diet. New research is changing this school of thought.
New Research on Introducing Peanuts
New guidelines have been published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and other respected journals based on this new research. It’s now believed that a good method of dealing with peanut allergies is to start feeding babies that are considered at high risk of developing this allergy between the ages of four and 11 months of age.
This means adding creamy peanut butter to their diet. One major study done on five-year-old children found that only 2 percent developed an peanut allergy after eating them, whereas 14 percent developed an allergy when avoiding peanuts out of the 530 children in the study.
High-Risk Qualifications for Peanut Allergy
There are several qualifications that should be met for your child to be considered high risk.
- The child has other food allergies.
- The child has eczema.
- The child has family members with peanut allergies.
If your child falls into any of these risk categories, feel free to bring this up to their pediatrician at the next appointment. Your doctor can give you the safest way to start implementing this addition to your baby’s diet.
Note of Caution
One thing you need to remember with your child is that peanuts that are whole or in chunks can be a choking hazard to your child.
See also: How to Tell if Your Child Has Asthma or Allergies – When to Visit the Emergency Room.
Be sure to keep a close watch on them even after you’ve learned that a peanut allergy is no longer a threat to prevent any instances of choking. Wait until they are at least five to give them whole peanuts.
The Elimination of Peanut Aware Classrooms or Peanut Free School?
While these new guidelines are not going to eliminate peanut allergies in children, experts are hopeful that it will start to decrease the number of children with them over time. Schools will continue to protect their students as they see fit, but over time, there may be a revolution when it comes to the number of students with peanut allergies.