Now that I’ve got your attention, let me clarify. The permission to meddle is really a call to inform and educate your grandbaby’s mom or dad (i.e., your son, daughter, or daughter-in-law) about the early introduction of peanuts to reduce the incidence of peanut allergy.
A Real-World Detective Story
The history of introducing peanut foods in infants 4 to 6 months of age is as good as any detective story. Pediatricians in the U.K. noticed that peanut allergy was on the rise in Western countries. The prevalence of peanut allergy in children had doubled in the past ten years. It develops early in life and is rarely outgrown. And, as you probably know, it can be life-threatening. Here’s where the sleuthing comes in; the doctors noted that the risk of developing peanut allergy was ten times as high in Jewish children in the U.K. as it was in Jewish children in Israel. Israeli kids are given peanut-based foods early in life (like the peanut snack food, Bamba), whereas infants in the U.K. (and the U.S.) are not exposed to peanut foods until much later. What if early introduction to peanuts protected kids from developing an allergy?
Taking the LEAP
Thus, was born the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy Trial or LEAP. (The link takes you to the original study published in the New England Journal of Medicine; within this link is a short video that explains the study, so if you are interested, it is worth a click). The researchers studied two groups of infants; one group was at low risk of developing a peanut allergy, based on skin prick testing. In this group, almost 14% of infants who were not given peanuts developed an allergy, compared to less than 2% in the group that got peanuts. Another group of infants, determined to be a higher risk of developing allergies based on testing, had similar results. Thirty-five percent of the high-risk infants who did not get peanuts developed peanut allergy, compared to 10% in the group that got peanuts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports early introduction of peanuts
Currently, over a dozen international and national health organizations have developed consensus statements about preventing peanut allergy with early introduction. This includes the American Academy of Pediatrics and for more information, check out their Healthy Children website.
Tips to get started
So, how do peanuts get introduced to infants? First, most babies fall into a low risk category, but if the infant has an egg allergy or severe eczema, talk to your pediatrician about the best way to introduce peanuts. For all others, which includes most babies, introduce peanut foods around 6 months of age, after they begin eating solid foods. Here are some tips to introduce peanut foods to the little peanuts!
- Thin 2 teaspoons of peanut butter with a few teaspoons of hot water. Let it cool down before serving.
- Stir in 2 teaspoons of powdered peanut butter into 2 Tablespoons of a food the baby has previously tolerated, like pureed fruit or veggies.
- Blend 2 teaspoons of peanut butter into 2-3 Tablespoons of foods such as infant cereal, applesauce, yogurt, pureed chicken, or other foods the baby is tolerating.
Older infants who are teething might like a homemade peanut butter teething biscuit, a recipe from the National Peanut Board. And, of course, never give whole peanuts to kids under the age of 5 years or let them suck a lump of peanut butter off of a spoon.
For more great tips and recipes, check out the information from the National Peanut Board.
And, for my last tip for grandparents, don’t meddle in feeding practices of your grandchildren once you tell your adult children about the peanut allergy thing!
Disclosure: I received a packet of information, including the peanut powder shown in this post, from the National Peanut Board, as an educational tool sent to registered dietitians. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I compensated to do so. I am gifting the contents of the package to my nephew and niece-in-law to help them introduce peanut foods to their new twin baby girls! I heard the researcher of the LEAP study present his data at a conference a couple of years ago and was fascinated by the research, so I am happy to have the opportunity to pass it along my newest great nieces!
For more information to keep yourself eating well, moving well, and being well, check out Food & Fitness After 50, available at Amazon.