Introducing peanut food products to the diets of four- to six-month-old babies could lower their risk of an allergy to peanuts by as much as 77 per cent, researchers in Britain said.
In a fresh analysis of data from a study published in December 2022, researchers in the UK identified a “window of opportunity” to feed smooth peanut butter - products without whole or broken nuts - to prevent allergies from developing.
Findings from the new analysis, led by Professor Graham Roberts from the University of Southampton, recommended that babies be fed suitable peanut products when they are developmentally ready to start solids, from around four months old, while continuing to be breastfed until they are at least six months old.
For babies with eczema, four months after birth was recommended to begin introducing peanut products, an age earlier than conventional health guidance to start solids.
Singapore’s Health Promotion Board recommends the six-month mark as a recommended age to begin complementary feeding food items and solids, but also advises parents to look out for signs of readiness in their child, in conjunction with medical advice.
Some signs include when babies are able to sit up against the back of a chair while keeping their heads held upright; when babies show interest by fixating attention or reaching out towards solid food, or when they are able to swallow, chew and not spit food out. Britain’s National Health Service has similar recommendations.
“Over several decades, the deliberate avoidance of peanut has understandably led to parental fear of early introduction,” Dr Roberts, an allergy expert and also lead author of the study titled “Defining the window of opportunity and target populations to prevent peanut allergy” told media at an online briefing last Friday.
“This latest evidence shows that applying simple, low-cost, safe interventions to the whole population could be an effective preventive public health strategy that would deliver vast benefits for future generations.”
He acknowledged that babies could have adverse reactions to peanuts, but that they were “minor” with serious reactions less commonly observed.
“In our experience, babies usually only have minor reactions to peanut. This might be some swelling or an itchy rash,” he told the Southampton Biomedical Research ...