Monday, January 5, 2009

Each week this blog will highlight a different area of food, nutrition and health. The first week look for research highlights. The second week look for kid-friendly food and food play ideas. The third week of the month, find new information regarding food allergies. The fourth week will have some healthy nutrition tips for the whole family.

Nuts? or Nuts!
Many pediatricians recommend that infants avoid peanuts and peanut products for the first year, some pediatricians recommend no peanuts until age 3 or 4. But a study in the November 2008 issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that perhaps by avoiding early exposure to common allergens, we are actually encouraging more allergies. These researchers compared the prevalence of peanut allergy in two similar groups of children who lived in different environments-5,171 Jewish children in the United Kingdom and 5,615 Jewish children in Israel. They found that peanut allergy was 10 times higher in the children in the UK, 1.85 % compared to .17%.

What was the difference between these groups? According to the authors, the only difference seemed to be the timing of exposure to peanuts. In Israel, 69 percent of children consumed peanut products by 9 months of age compared to 10 percent in the UK. Israeli mothers also consumed more peanut products during pregnancy then did mothers in the UK. The researchers suggested that the recommendation to limit early exposure to peanuts may actually be contributing to the growing incidence of peanut allergy in the US, UK and Australia.

Remember that this is just one study and more studies will be necessary to determine the best way to introduce foods. The timing of food introduction may be one piece of the puzzle of food allergies but it is not the only piece. This is definitely food for thought.
If your child has food allergies, especially peanut allergies, speak with your doctor before making any dietary changes.

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