Food allergies in babies can be pretty scary. Considering peanuts are a common allergy in infants, exposing babies to them for the first time can be a bit nerve-wracking for everyone involved. So, in order to alleviate some of that fear, this FDA-approved tool helps hesitant parents introduce peanuts into their baby's diet — and how it works is incredibly promising.
The system is called Hello, Peanut! and it gives parents the means to gradually introduce peanuts to children. According to The Bump, it includes seven packets of a sprouted oak flakes mixed with peanut powder which are labeled "Day One through Day Seven." Per its instructions, for babies 5 months or older without a known peanut allergy or previous exposure to peanut products, parents should mix a packet in with everyday foods that the baby is already fond of.
From day one, the amount of peanut contained in each packet increases with each serving. If the baby makes it through the entire week without having a reaction to the peanuts, maintenance packets can be administered up to three times a week to sustain tolerance, according to the instructions.
There is a lot of buzz circulating around the results of Hello, Peanut! — and for good reason. Earlier this year, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), along with several other organizations, issued revised peanut ingestion guidelines for babies. The study influencing the report suggested that babies were at a lower risk of peanut allergies if they were introduced to peanuts early on — at 3 and 6 months of age. The guidelines therefore suggest that parents introduce peanuts early on and provide a detailed timeline of contributing factors for introduction such as other allergies or eczema.
Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a statement that when to introduce potential allergens to babies' diets is a tough one:
Perhaps one of the most challenging decisions for parents of my generation is when and how to introduce foods that pose a potential for a significant allergic reaction.
The recent report from NIAID gives a good timeline to ease that stress a bit The only missing piece of the guidelines seems to be how exactly to introduce the peanuts. So rather than try to finagle some sort of peanut baby food, Hello, Peanut! allows parents ease and structure to follow these recommendations safely.
In order to further reassure parents, Assured Bites, Inc., the company that manufactures Hello, Peanut!, recently filed a petition with the FDA, requesting that food labels of baby-friendly peanut products specify the link between early exposure and reduced allergy risk. The health request was then approved, which makes it the first FDA-approved health claim to prevent a food allergy.
However, it remains a qualified (rather than authorized) claim, meaning that it is supported by reputable science, but still requires a disclaimer. In this case, that disclaimer specifies that the evidence is limited to one study and advises parents to check with their healthcare providers before beginning the system.
This is another piece of a growing solution to overcome peanut allergies in children. This year, researchers in Australia have discovered a new treatment that can reportedly help children overcome peanut allergies by providing freedom from reactions for as long as four years. According to Food Allergy Research and Education, peanut allergies are one of the most common allergies and can cause life-threatening reactions. Treatments and, ideally, prevention methods like these are the path to freedom from such afflictions.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries: