Friday, January 27, 2017

New Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy

An expert panel of scientists meeting under the sponsorship of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has issued new guidelines for the prevention of peanut allergies in young children. The guidelines draw on findings published last year (see this blog, Mar. 9, 2015) which showed that adding peanut proteins to the diet of young children at risk for developing allergies significantly reduced the chances of those children developing peanut allergies by age five. The new guidelines are that infants can be fed peanut-containing foods at any age; as early as they begin taking solid food, in fact.

Some parents are skeptical, and a few are even angry. That's because the previous guidelines were to withhold peanuts from young children in the hope that sensitivity to peanuts could be avoided. According to these parents, this reversal of the guidelines is just more evidence that scientists (and their recommendations) shouldn't be trusted.

But the reality is that we try to make rational choices based on whatever information we have at the time. So when new and better information becomes available (such as the data published last year), we should look carefully at it and change our view, if warranted. In a nutshell (no pun intended) that is what has happened with the peanut recommendations.

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