Children need to go to school to learn how to read and write. Likewise, children exposed to foods early in infancy (between 4 and 10 months) are more likely to tolerate the foods.
Societies where children are exposed to peanuts during weaning (many communities in the Middle East) have a prevalence of peanut allergy twenty times less that countries such as the UK.
Percentage of 5 year old children with peanut allergy
Children with eczema and/or egg allergy are less likely to develop peanut allergy if they are given peanut-containing weaning foods e.g. peanut butter regularly from 4 – 10 months old (DuToit G, et al, Randomized Trial of peanut consumption in children at risk of peanut allergy. N Engl J Med, 2015). Orange bar: children who consumed peanut containing food from 4 – 10 months until 5 years of age; Red bar: children who avoided all peanut containing foods until the age of 5 years. Results show percentage of children who reacted to peanuts on formal oral challenge in hospital).
- Children who have developed clinical allergy to a food (urticaria or angiodema, vomiting or diarrhoea, laryngeal oedema, asthma or faintness) should AVOID the food until they have been assessed by a healthcare professional with experience in children’s allergies. Where the history is atypical or there have been no reactions for a number of years, a supervised food challenge may be indicated.
- Children who have never experienced an allergic reaction to a food should NOT undergo allergy tests to this food as they may give false results. Instead they should be allowed to consume age-appropriate amounts and preparations of the food as part of their infant weaning diet. Delaying the introduction of the food until school age may promote rather than prevent food allergy.