A Peanut A Day Keeps The Allergies At Bay

image-e1456984756381-768x1024Monday morning, Isabella and I are going to be sitting on the grass outside the hospital as i give her peanut butter mixed into a pumpkin purée… Hopefully it’ll be an anticlimax and the only thing I’ll have to worry about is how to feed her without a high chair… We’ve had the tick of approval from our GP… However, I’m petrified!

Growing up, peanut butter smothered on sandwiches or celery sticks were a staple in my lunchbox. That salty, creamy, peanut buttery goodness that every kid loves… Now, it is permanently banned from schools and creating fear in parents all around the world. Sure, some people were allergic to peanuts 30 odd years ago, but it wasn’t the huge issue it is today. Something has changed and now the rates of allergy, to all kinds of things- but most scarily to peanuts, due to the severity and often life long sentence it provides, is increasing. Peanut and food allergies are increasing in the developing world, with Australia often touted as it’s capital.

I don’t have food allergies and neither does my husband or our families. I have asthma and eczema though and my husband hayfever, so it puts Isabella in a moderate risk bracket for allergies. With increasing allergies appearing in children, a lack of family history doesn’t preclude Isabella, so I want to make sure I do everything possible to protect her… If there is anything that I can do?

New research being published suggests that babies who are given a wide variety of foods from 4 months, including peanuts and eggs, are less likely to develop allergies to them. Apparently peanut proteins are everywhere, so given that I ate peanut containing products while breastfeeding, Isabella has definitely been exposed to some degree, which could create an allergic sensitivity. The theory goes that if I then give Isabella peanuts to eat, it allows her body to actually create tolerance, rather than just stay sensitised. So giving peanuts earlier than later could reduce her likelihood of having an extreme reaction to them. A single exposure early on to peanuts isn’t a cure-all though. To prevent an allergy developing, or to prevent a mild allergy from getting worse, the findings suggest that ongoing regular exposure to the food is the key.

As usual, Isabella and I are behind the times… Far from the wide variety of foods research now suggests I should have given her, Isabella is 5.5 months and has had a few uninterested mouthfuls here and there of sweet potato, pumpkin, avocado, green beans and banana. Despite feeling like giving her a never ending degustation tomorrow to catch up, the reality will be that she’ll be trying about a half teaspoon of puréed zucchini…

However, tomorrow I am going to put a bit of peanut butter on Isabella’s cheek and wipe it off. If she has no reaction, from then on, once a day, a tiny bit of peanut butter will be mixed in whatever puree is going. I’m going to try to increase the variety of foods I give her and include the potential allergens egg, grains, fish and dairy earlier than delaying them. Wish me luck!

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