Peanut caution

As a mother of three children with allergies, MALENA PENNEY considers the latest advice to offer babies peanuts.

You may have seen a commotion around social media lately over the changed advice to start giving young babies peanuts. This has come from the LEAP study (Learning Early About Peanut), which found, quite conclusively, that avoiding peanut in high-risk children results in higher incidences of peanut allergy at age five.

As a researcher into food allergy-related psychology, I am pro-science, but this is one piece of advice I think we should be careful about, and let parents choose what is right for their family. If you have no family history of allergy, your baby has not shown any signs of allergy, and there is no eczema present, then by all means go ahead if it feels right for you. However, for families with these risk factors, you may want to consider this first:

  • Most parents do not have immediate access to a life-saving EpiPen
  • Children with severe food reactions often show these as very young babies. I personally recommend getting babies showing signs
    of allergy tested by an allergist before
    trialling peanut.
  • Research into the amount and frequency of peanut necessary for the benefits suggested are still ongoing, and personally I would rather see some more science into the safety of doing this with young babies.

I’m not a doctor so this is just my opinion and doesn’t replace medical advice. But, if you do decide to give your baby peanuts, please make sure it’s in a form which is not a choking hazard, and you are close to a hospital or doctor. Even better, do it in the carpark of the hospital!

Malena Penney is a Food Allergy researcher and provides support, guidance and allergy-friendly recipes at Allergy Kids NZ. See allergykids.co.nz and funwithallergykids on Facebook and Instagram.