Lowering Your Child's Risk of Peanut Allergies

It’s never easy when parents try to decide when the best time is to start feeding their child solid foods. A child’s diet can depend on a variety of factors that range from oral health development to concerns over potential allergies. While your Vancouver dentist recommends speaking with your pediatrician before starting a child on solids, it’s important to know that a child will start teething around the age of 6 months. However, it’s also possible that some kids may begin teething until 12 to 14 months.

One of the considerations for parents when it comes to feeding their child solids is the potential to help build resistance to potential allergies. One of the most common and crippling allergies for kids to develop is one to peanuts.

Parents are beginning to understand that the old adage of waiting to give a baby peanuts until 12 months is actually incorrect.

A well regarded study published in 2015 actually found that early exposure to peanuts can actually drop a child’s risk of developing a nut allergy by nearly 80 percent, truly a remarkable gift, if possible.

But what’s the right age and method for working peanuts into a baby’s diet, especially considering that nuts are a potential choking hazard? Additionally, how often and how much do babies really need to see any long-term benefit? More concerning, what if a baby is consider at a high risk for having a peanut allergy?

Pediatricians and allergists have been debating those questions for over a year, and they recently shed some insight into possible answers at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

When to Add Nuts to Your Child’s Diet

The first step when expanding your child’s diet to include nuts is to consider the chance of an allergy. Early exposure offers potential benefits for some children who are at risk of developing a peanut allergy due to other risk factors, such as moderate to severe cases of eczema, an egg allergy or both.

(Many kids develop the occasional minor case of eczema. However, that doesn’t mean they have a higher likelihood of developing a peanut allergy. Doctors are far more concerned about kids who need longer or more frequent treatments of steroid creams to clear their skin, or of kids that suffer from eczema over large areas of their bodies.)

If your child has neither risk factor, you should still feed him or her peanuts, but you can do so rather infrequently. You don’t need to worry about how much or how often. Just start offering them foods that contain peanuts sometime within the first 12 months – research suggests that’s the most optimal window for training the immune system. Powdered peanut butter makes an excellent choice when starting a baby on peanuts. Parents can thin it with milk, juice or water, or mix the powder into baby cereal or applesauce.

If your child falls into the at-risk group, it’s important to avoid feeding them any foods containing peanuts until they can be examined by your pediatrician. During an allergy test, your pediatrician will perform a skin or blood test to see if a child exhibits an immune response to peanut protein.

If a child’s test is negative, you should start trying to introduce about 6 teaspoons a week of peanut butter into their diet.

If a child has a reaction, the severity of the reaction should determine your next steps. Babies who suffer a mild to moderate reaction can still receive some benefits from an early introduction to peanuts. However, any introduction should start at the doctor’s office so your child can be properly monitored into case more severe symptoms should develop.

As long as the in-office feedings go well, parents should feel confident in continuing the feedings at home, making sure to be a little stricter when it comes to incorporate the 6 teaspoons a week into a child’s diet.

Feeding Your Child Solids

By scheduling a visit to see your Vancouver dentist, our team at Dental Designs Vancouver can provide you a better idea of how your child’s oral health is developing. While a child can certainly start of powdered cereal and formula at a young age, you may want to delay feeding them grains, vegetables, fruits and meats until their teeth develop a little more fully.

Whatever you decide to start feeding your child, make sure you first consult a pediatrician and your Vancouver dentist for the information that best meets your child’s individual needs.



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