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Expert panel sponsored by NIH issues clinical guidelines to avoid peanut allergy

Published 09 January 2017

An expert panel sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has issued clinical guidelines to avoid peanut allergy.

The recommendations focus on introducing peanut-featuring foods to infants.

The health care provider may select to carry out an allergy blood test or send the infant to a specialist for other tests, like a skin prick test or an oral food challenge.

Results from such tests will help in concluding if and how peanut should be safely introduced into the infant’s diet.

As per the next recommendation, infants with mild or moderate eczema must have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diet at around six months of age to decrease peanut allergy risk.

Infants without eczema or any food allergy should have peanuts introduced into their foods freely.

In the above cases, infants should have started solid foods before peanut-containing foods are introduced.

According to the panel which conducted the study, it was prompted to issue these guidelines, thanks to an emerging data suggesting that peanut allergy can be prevented by introducing foods containing peanuts at an early age.

This recommendation, is claimed to be supported by a clinical trial conducted in February 2015 which showed that with regular peanut consumption from an early age during infancy and up to 5 years of age reduced the emergence of peanut allergy by about 81%.

This was observed in kids assumed with high risk as they already had eczema, egg allergy or both. The study, Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) was conducted on 600 infants and was funded by NIAID.

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said: “Living with peanut allergy requires constant vigilance. Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs.

“We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by health care providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States.”

NIAID Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation director Daniel Rotrosen said: “The LEAP study clearly showed that introduction of peanut early in life significantly lowered the risk of developing peanut allergy by age 5.

“The magnitude of the benefit and the scientific strength of the study raised the need to operationalise these findings by developing clinical recommendations focused on peanut allergy prevention.”

Image: NIH issues new guidelines to prevent peanut allergy in infants. Photo: Courtesy of nalinratphi/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.