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Doc Talk: Peanut allergy

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It seems as though more and more children are suffering with peanut allergies. But it’s unclear why it’s happening or if children today are more susceptible to them.

Peanut allergies can develop at any time, but most often they appear randomly with children. The increase in those with peanut allergies are now so severe, many schools have banned peanut products. The solution, doctors say, is to introduce peanuts to children early.

Between peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, there are a lot of reasons kids like peanuts and peanut products. But many can’t eat them at all.

“We were advising not to introduce peanuts until three years of age, and that may have actually been counterproductive,” said Dr. Joel Rose, a pediatrician for Holy Spirit Hospital.

Holy Spirit pediatrician Dr. Joel Rose says that’s because more and more kids are suffering with peanut allergies. He says the reason is likely the age people introduce their children to peanuts.

“We had advised to hold back until age three until recently. Studies have shown that early introduction of peanut can actually reduce the risk,” said Dr. Rose.

Now doctors recommend introducing peanuts to kids as young as four to six months or even while the child is in utero, especially for children who are possibly more prone to peanut allergies due to family history of food allergies, eczema and asthmas.

Reducing the risk is something parents aim to do since peanut allergies can result in some severe reactions.

“Your throat can close over, your blood pressure can drop, and you can become unconscious and actually succumb to a peanut allergy reaction,” said Dr. Rose.

Dr. Rose says only 20 percent of children ever outgrow a peanut allergy.

“At some point the baby’s going to be sensitized to peanut at some point. It actually may reduce the risk because we have early sensitization

It’s important to note not all nuts are nuts. Peanuts are technically legumes, which means if you’re allergic to peanuts, you may not be allergic to all tree nuts, which include walnuts, almonds, cashews, chestnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and pine nuts.

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