Today, the results of two new studies further support the early introduction of allergenic foods to infants:
Can We EAT Our Way to Prevention of Food Allergies? (Enquiring About Tolerance Study)
New evidence about how to prevent food allergy – particularly peanut allergy – is leading to a revision in federal health guidelines for doctors and families.
The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) seeks public comment on changes to guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy.
Food allergy experts began looking at revising the 2010 guidelines after the first LEAP study results came out a year ago. The LEAP study showed that high-risk infants who start eating peanut early have a lower chance of developing that allergy.
Experts are suggesting three recommendations based on the original LEAP study:
- High-risk infants begin eating peanut-containing food as early as 4-6 months. Infants are considered at risk if they have severe eczema, egg allergy or both. A qualified healthcare provider should perform testing first to see if an allergy already exists. AAFA suggests families see a board-certified allergist, who can interpret the results of skin testing and oral food challenges.
- Infants with mild to moderate eczema also begin eating peanut products early. Check with your doctor and consider your family’s preferences.
- Infants without eczema or food allergy have no peanut restrictions. Peanuts, along with other solid foods, can be introduced early, depending on family preference.
Now, the NIAID wants to know what you think - it is accepting public comments until April 18, 2016.
An expert panel for the NIAID developed these draft guidelines prior to the publication of the LEAP-On and EAT studies. Comments are welcome on the findings of the recent studies. It is expected that the final guidelines will be revised to include this new published data.
Some important points to keep in mind:
- Peanuts and peanut butter are a choking hazard for babies. The panel suggests ways to start peanut products in the baby's diet safely.
- These guidelines DO NOT APPLY to babies, children and other people who are already allergic to peanuts or other foods. If you have a food allergy, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors at all times. It is important to know the signs of a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis.
- The panel understands that adding peanuts to an infant’s diet when an older sibling may already be allergic could be difficult for some families.
AAFA is represented on the NIAID's Coordinating Committee by Meryl Bloomrosen, MBA, MBI, AAFA’s Senior Vice President Policy, Advocacy and Research.
Two board-certified allergists who are part of AAFA’s Medical Scientific Council (MSC) are on NIAID’s Expert Panel:
Matthew J. Greenhawt, MD MBA, MSc, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Allergy Section, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO.
David R. Stukus, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Allergy/Immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Stukus sits on AAFA’s Board of Directors and serves as Secretary. He is also Chair of the Board’s Digital Strategy Committee and is Chair of the MSC’s Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Subcommittee.
Medical Review March 2016.