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New guidelines suggest giving peanut-based foods to babies earlier prevents allergies

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In a dramatic reversal of commonly held practice, researchers now say most babies should start eating foods containing peanuts well before their 1st birthday, according to new guidelines released Thursday.

The highly anticipated study revealed that an early introduction of peanuts dramatically decreases the risk of developing a peanut allergy by as much as 80 percent.

Some infants should be introduced to peanut-containing foods as early as 4 months, the study found.

Guideline recommendations include:

  • Babies should try solid foods before foods with peanuts
  • High-risk babies should have peanut-containing foods introduced as early as 4 to 6 months after a check-up
  • Moderate-risk babies with milder eczema should start peanut-based foods around 6 months.
  • Parents can introduce peanut-based foods along with other solids, usually around 6 months.
  • Make peanut-based foods part of the regular diet, about three times a week.

Background on the study:

The study by the National Institute of Health of followed the progress of 600 babies, assigned either to avoid or regularly eat age-appropriate peanut products. 

By age 5, only 2 percent of peanut eaters and 11 percent of those at highest risk had become allergic.

Among peanut avoiders, 14 percent had become allergic, and 35 percent of those at highest risk.


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