Scientists report that giving young children, between the ages of 4 and 6 months, small servings of smooth peanut butter can significantly reduce a peanut allergy.
The scientists pointed out that the British government’s advice on weaning — which calls for not giving children solid foods until about six months — “needs to change,” reports Al-Rai daily quoting BBC.
Experts warn that whole or chopped nuts and peanuts increase choking hazards and should not be given to children under the age of five.
Current NHS guidance indicates that peanuts (powdered, ground or butter) can be introduced from around six months of age, given that: The child has control of his eyes, hands and mouth, is able to look at his food, pick it up and put it in his mouth – and is able to swallow the food instead of spitting it out.
A food allergy is caused by the immune system believing something harmless to be a serious threat. For some, even a small amount of peanuts can trigger an immune reaction so overwhelming it becomes life-threatening.
However, the evidence over the past 15 years shows instead, eating peanuts while your immune system is developing — and developing the ability to tell friend from foe — can reduce allergic reactions, experts say.
It also means that the body’s first experience of peanuts is in the abdomen, where it is more likely to be recognized as food, rather than the first experience on the skin, which is more likely to be treated as a threat.
Studies have suggested that introducing other foods linked to allergies — such as eggs, milk and wheat — also reduces allergies early on.
In the latest research, the best time to start introducing foods containing peanuts has been calculated.
The analysis was carried out by the University of Southampton, King’s College London, and the research arm of the National Institute for Health and Care Research.
Peanut butter, which can be very dry, can be given with breast milk.