Kids and the Peanut Problem

News from the American Academy of Pediatrics says you serve trigger foods sooner than you may have thought.

By Bridget Nelson Monroe from Reader's Digest | April 2008

There’s no shortage of food rules for kids. Babies under a year shouldn’t eat honey (it can lead to botulism poisoning). And many parents have been following guidelines for allergies, keeping triggers like eggs and peanuts off kids’ plates until age two or three.

Peanut Allergy and Kids Ask your pediatrician when to introduce peanuts and how to gauge if your child is having a reaction.

But moms and dads can relax—at least about the allergies. The American Academy of Pediatrics just released a report saying that although babies shouldn’t eat solid food until they’re six months old, there’s no evidence that holding off on trigger foods longer than that lowers the risk of allergy. “It doesn’t seem to matter what age you’re exposed,” says Todd Green, MD. Dr. Green’s study found that kids diagnosed with peanut allergies in recent years had their first reaction at about age 14 months; in the mid-1990s, the problem began at about 24 months. But since the time between first exposure and first reaction was the same no matter when they first ate peanuts, it may mean “if you’re allergic, you’re allergic,” he says.

What you can do. Ask your pediatrician when to introduce peanuts and how to gauge if your child is having a reaction. The doctor may advise you to wait anyway, since nuts and gobs of peanut butter are a choking hazard for kids under three and a baby can’t tell you his mouth feels funny, while a four-year-old can.