Reducing Peanut Allergies

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I recently attended the National Extension Association for Family and
Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual week-long conference. This association is for professionals in Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) that work within the Cooperative Extension System across the nation. This year the North Carolina Affiliate was pleased to host the event in Raleigh.

Besides speakers and subject matter presentations, this conference
traditionally features exhibits of vendors, organizations, and universities.
I was able to talk with the representative from the Southern Peanut
Growers. She shared information about peanut allergies and distributed a factsheet on how to introduce peanut foods to infants.

In addition to the Southern Peanut Growers association, the factsheet was
developed by the National Peanut Board and the Food Allergy and
Anaphylaxis Connection Team. They stress that the science is clear:
introducing peanut containing-foods early can reduce the risk of an infant
developing a peanut allergy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)
2020-2025 agree.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates at 4 to 6% of children under the age of 18 have a food allergy. There are over 170 food items that have been reported to cause allergic reactions. Peanuts are one of the most prevalent with about 2% of children being allergic to them. Food allergy reactions can range from mild (hives, rash, or eczema) to life-threatening (anaphylaxis, swelling of the eyes, severe vomiting, and/or diarrhea).

The DGA recommends introducing foods that contain peanuts along with other solid foods to infants within the first year. When a baby is ready for solid foods (usually around six months) parents and caregivers can slowly introduce peanuts and other allergenic foods into the baby’s diet.

PreventPeanutAllergies.org suggests these five ways to introduce peanut
foods to infants:

  1. Thin two teaspoons of peanut butter with two to three teaspoons of hot water, formula, or breast milk. Allow to cool before serving.
  2. Blend two teaspoons of peanut butter into two to three tablespoons of
    foods like infant cereal, yogurt (if the child already tolerates dairy) or into
    pureed chicken or tofu.
  3. Stir two teaspoons of powdered peanut butter into two tablespoons of
    previously tolerated pureed fruits or vegetables.
  4. Give the baby peanut-containing snacks or teething foods, such as
    peanut puffs.
  5. Teething infants who are older and self-feeding may enjoy homemade peanut butter teething biscuits. There is a recipe for these at NationalPeanutBoard.org

A few other important tips to remember: Only introduce one food at a time and watch for any potential allergy symptoms caused by the consumed foods. Introduce peanut foods to an infant after they have already started other solid foods. Do not give whole nuts to children under five years of age. Do not give peanut butter directly from a spoon or in lumps or dollops to children under four years old. Research shows that some children may be more likely to develop peanut allergies than others. A child that has moderate to severe eczema, a history of other allergies (especially eggs), or a family member with a history of food allergies may be more at risk. There are additional guidelines for these children. If the child’s pediatrician or other health care provider approves, the DGM recommends infants in this category begin eating peanut food as early as 4-6 months of age and continue to consume them regularly. If the infant falls into this category, the healthcare provider may be able to do testing to determine the safest way to introduce allergens to this child.

Always seek the advice of the child’s pediatrician or other healthcare providers for questions about a specific child’s risk.

For more information about children and peanut allergies, visit PreventPeanutAllergies.org. This website provides more information on early peanut introduction, including background, resources, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Other sources of information on this topic:


Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253- 2610 or by email at Cheryle_Syracuse@ncsu.edu