Potentially deadly peanut allergies are showing up at much younger ages as parents introduce their children to the food much earlier than a decade ago, a study released on 3 November has found.
The authors said the trend was troubling, particularly given that peanut allergies in children have doubled in the same period.
They recommended that parents should delay introducing their children to peanuts and other potential allergens. “When kids are older, it can be easier to manage bad reactions,” said lead author Todd Green, professor of paediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, US.
“They can tell you right away if their mouths feel funny. For that reason alone, it is worth delaying exposing your child to a peanut product, especially if a child is at high risk,” Green added.
About 200 people die every year in the US because something they ate caused a severe allergic reaction. As many as one-third of the 1.8 million people in the US with peanut allergies have reactions which are severe enough to kill them.
The study published in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ found that children born during or after 2000 were exposed to peanuts at 12 months of age and reported their first adverse reactions at 14 months. Those born between 1995 and 1997 did not eat food containing peanuts until 22 months and did not show their first adverse reactions until at 24 months.
At present, researchers are working on another study to find out if an early introduction of small amounts of peanut and other potentially offending food products could potentially prevent food allergies by desensitizing children and helping their immune system mount an appropriate response.