Tuesday, January 31, 2017

From the desk of Shelly Flais, MD

In the past 2 decades, food allergies have more than tripled. The most common food allergies are peanuts (in the legume family), tree nuts (such as walnuts and pecans), egg, shellfish, soy, wheat, and fish. Due to this growing food allergy epidemic, continued research is investigating what can be done to prevent or treat food allergies. New studies show that children who consume peanuts at earlier ages are less likely to develop a peanut allergy. It is important to note that recommendations vary depending on if your child has severe eczema, asthma, or allergies; if this is the case, talk to your PHA provider first to determine the best course of action.

Keep in mind that the introduction of peanut is taken in the broader context of introducing new solid foods in general, which also includes pureed vegetables and fruits, fortified infant cereal mixed with the infant's usual breastmilk or formula, and other foods. As always, wait 3 days after offering a new type of solid food before attempting another new food. Avoid choking hazards in infants and toddlers younger than 3 years of age. Whole nuts and thick peanut butter are choking hazards, so when introducing peanut to your child, thinned peanut butter is recommended. We have new handouts outlining these guidelines in our PHA offices, and look forward to discussing this important issue with your family. For further information on food allergies in general, check out the FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) website at foodallergy.org.

Dr. Flais is currently working on her third book with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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