Peanut allergy in infants
Feeding your baby new food can be stressful, and peanuts are especially scary because it is a common food allergy, particularly amongst infants. A food allergy is a condition in which certain foods trigger an abnormal immune response.
With peanut allergies, signs and symptoms for a baby include redness around the mouth area or other body parts. Stomach distress is another common reaction, and a runny or stuffy nose and swelling of the face.
How common is peanut allergy?
Peanut allergies affect around 4–8% of children and 1–2% of adults.
However, around 15–22% of children who develop a peanut allergy will find it resolves as they move into their teenage years, Healthline explains.
Doctor’s diagnose a peanut allergy by using a combination of a patient’s history, skin prick testing, blood tests and food challenges.
Healthline continues that the two conditions are distinct. A peanut is a legume. People suffering from peanut allergies are usually allergic to tree nuts as a whole.
A family history of food allergies means there’s a chance your baby can most likely develop the allergies too.
Exposure to peanuts
Exposure to peanuts can occur in three ways – direct, cross-contact or inhalation.
Direct contact exposure is eating peanuts or peanut-containing foods. Direct skin contact can also trigger an allergic reaction.
Cross-contact exposure is an unintended introduction of peanuts via a product. Your food may be exposed to peanuts while handled or processed.
Inhalation exposure triggers an allergic reaction by inhaled dust or aerosols containing peanuts. The Source may be peanut flour or peanut oil cooking spray.
Look out for severe symptoms.
Allergic reactions to peanuts happen almost immediately after eating or touching them. Some reactions occur hours later. Rare and severe symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth and a high fever. A weak pulse and losing consciousness are also rare reactions.
Feed peanuts to your baby in a controlled setting. You can monitor them for a few hours after they ate.
My baby is having a bad reaction – what do I do?
A mild reaction to peanuts requires allergy medication. It will reduce the reaction. But do not administer anything without guidance from a medical professional. You should call your paediatrician and monitor your baby until your appointment.
Lil Mixins suggests that parents take a baby with a rare reaction to peanuts to the emergency room for observation. Two mild reactions are considered severe.
Outgrowing peanut allergies
Food allergies usually develop between six months and one year. Toddlers can develop a peanut allergy between one and three years.
Some children can outgrow a peanut allergy when they are five. Peanut allergies are more aggressive than dairy and egg allergies. A child is more likely to outgrow a peanut allergy by five if they have mild reactions, only have a peanut allergy and do not have eczema or asthma.
Boys seem to outgrow food allergies faster than girls, but they usually develop food allergies first.
Introduce early and Mix well
Make sure your baby can swallow purees and other foods well. Spitting out food they don’t like or gagging will be less likely and less alarming. Start with a small amount of a peanut product in a puree or another regular food. Wait 15 minutes and if there are no symptoms, try a standard serving size.
If you are serving your baby peanut butter, consider watering it down first. A tablespoon or two can make the butter more liquid-like. This method is easier to feed to infants of four months old. Babies start to eat solid foods at four to six months. You can introduce peanut butter at its regular consistency at this time.
See a specialist
A visit to an allergy specialist empowers parents. They will know how to read food labels to avoid peanuts. An allergy specialist will show you what peanut allergy symptoms look like and what medicines to use for specific symptoms. They will educate you about self-injectable epinephrine devices, such as EpiPen or Audi Q. Never leave home without this device. Parents will know how to approach the school about a child’s allergy.
Parent’s know best
Trust yourself to know the precautions of peanut allergies. Don’t share food with other babies. Wipe away visible peanut residue before sitting down.
Make decisions that are best for your infant.
Research has shown that one should introduce multiple foods together. It is much safer this way and can help the immune system have a lower risk of developing food allergies. More studies are needed, but it is best to consult your doctor about what is best for your baby.
Your age, family history, and lifestyle place you at risk, but the good news is that it is never too late to make these small changes to your lifestyle and diet.
Give The Medical Society a call and set up a consultation. The Medical Society is passionate about proper health and nutrition for both children and adults. The Medical Society covers you and your family for whatever unforeseen illnesses may come your way, offering affordable healthcare for adults.
Starting from R89 a month, members have access to unlimited nurse-room visits, as well as dietary advice from professionals.