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Should be introduced to peanut-containing foods between 4-6 months of age.

Chan noted that Jewish children in Britain are ten times more likely to have a peanut allergy than genetically similar children in Israel.

"It's an important step forward", said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which appointed experts to turn the research findings into user-friendly guidelines. "This includes infants at high risk of allergy".

Parents, pediatricians, and other healthcare providers are now firmly advised to start feeding infants peanut-laced foods to head off allergies before they develop. So if you catch your four-month-old gumming a crumb from their older siblings' peanut butter cups and they're in this category, you can relax.

"Allergy is a hard thing to pin down, but observational studies show that the rate of peanut allergy is at least three times higher now than it was a couple of decades ago", said Chan.

Indeed, peanut allergy is a growing problem, now estimated to affect 2 percent of USA children. Of those who consumed foods containing peanuts, just 3 percent became allergic.

The new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other groups follow up on findings that giving peanut to kids early enough in life can train their immune systems so they don't overreact and cause a risky allergic reaction. For these kids, experts say nutty foods should be introduced around six months. He asks parents to consult a doctor when picking a peanut food to feed their children and to be aware of choking.

Parents should begin feeding infants peanut products between four and six months of age, not waiting until 12 months, a practice that appears to be fuelling a rapid increase in peanut allergy in North America.

Addendum Guideline 1 focuses on infants deemed at high risk of developing peanut allergy because they already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both.

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That said, before you introduce peanut-containing products to a child, make sure they are evaluated by an allergy specialist first. However, parents whose children fall into this group should first check with their doctors before starting their infants on peanut-containing foods.

Furthermore, when the researchers checked on the children a year later, they discovered that those who hadn't developed allergies by age 5 were still peanut allergy-free at age 6. Other studies that also backed this correlation between early exposure and fewer allergies were a primary factor for the NIH to issue new guidelines.

Since then peanut allergy in children has soared.

Dr. Scott Sicherer, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, represented AAP on the guidelines and helped write them.

Allergy levels are soaring in the USA and have more than quadrupled since 2008. "I think that we are going to help a lot of people by implementing this new strategy".

Most kids should get a small taste of peanut protein by the time they are 6 months old, and they should get regular doses if they don't have an allergic reaction.

Scientists put the theory to a test in the NIH-funded Learning Early About Peanut Allergy study, a trial led by Gideon Lack of King's College London involving 640 infants considered at high risk of developing peanut allergies.

"Living with peanut allergy requires constant vigilance".


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