Many parents of newborns and young infants worry their children will develop food allergies. They may not be aware that new guidelines now recommend introducing peanut-containing foods to infants in order to reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy.

New ideas

Early peanut introduction is a new idea, and it makes some parents nervous.

One parent who has gotten beyond his nerves is actor, director and entrepreneur Justin Baldoni, star of “Jane the Virgin.”  Justin and his wife Emily recently introduced their five-month-old son Maxwell to peanuts by mixing peanut powder with breastmilk.

“As a father, I want to do everything I can to ensure my children have the best chance at a happy, healthy life,” says Baldoni. “That’s why, after learning about the new guidelines, we chose to introduce peanuts to Maxwell as a baby. By feeding him peanut foods early and keeping it in his diet regularly, we can drastically reduce his chances of developing a peanut allergy.”

“As a father, I want to do everything I can to ensure my children have the best chance at a happy, healthy life.”

Backed by science

The guidelines are from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and are endorsed by groups such as the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). The guidelines map out a path for parents who want to introduce peanut-containing foods to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.

“Most parents can introduce infants to baby-safe peanut foods around six months of age as often as they’d like,” says allergist Jay Lieberman, M.D., vice chair of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee. “Infants with severe eczema or an egg allergy, or both, are considered high-risk and parents should consult their pediatrician before introducing peanut foods. Parents should also know that every child’s risk level is different, and even low-risk infants can react. It’s a good idea to consult with your health care provider regarding risk.”

PreventPeanutAllergies.org, a new website and campaign from ACAAI, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team and the National Peanut Board, features information on early peanut introduction, as well as a video series documenting Baldoni’s experience introducing Maxwell to peanut foods.