Four years after release of guidelines, parents still not informed about early peanut introduction

Lifestyle

In 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released guidelines to help parents introduce peanut products to their infants to prevent peanut allergy. A new study being presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting reveals that although 58% of those surveyed reported their primary care physician (PCP) discussed early peanut introduction, only 40% of the parents said they received a recommendation to introduce peanut by 11 months of age.

“Our survey showed that while PCPs are discussing the idea of early peanut introduction with parents of infants, they aren’t recommending that most parents begin peanut by 11 months of age,” said Christopher Warren, Ph.D., primary author of the study. “We now know that the earlier peanut is introduced, as early as when a child begins solid foods, the better the chance that peanut allergy can be prevented.”

The survey gathered responses from 3062 households in an approximately 3-week period in 2021. The parents/caregivers who responded had children between the ages of 7 months and 3.5 years. Among the infants, 11% had eczema—significant because eczema is one of the indicators parents and caregivers need to be mindful of as a risk factor for food allergies.

In general, parents/caregivers of children with eczema had a greater awareness of the guidelines (18%), and 69% of those parents/caregivers said their child’s PCP had discussed peanut introduction.

“Of those we surveyed, only 44% of the parents/caregivers reported introducing peanut by 11 months of age,” said Ruchi Gupta, MD, ACAAI member and co-author of the study. “And only 13% of all those who responded were aware of the NIAID guidelines. Early peanut introduction should be discussed with parents/caregivers of all infants, including those at higher risk of developing peanut allergy.”

Parents should know that most infants are either moderate- or low-risk for developing peanut allergies, and most can have peanut-containing foods introduced at home. Whole peanuts should never be given to infants as they are a choking hazard. More information can be found here and also in the ACAAI video featuring Dr. Gupta, “Introducing peanut-containing foods to prevent peanut allergy.”