Is a Single Exposure to Peanut Enough?
One of the hardest myths to dispel is that you can be one-and-done when it comes to introducing potential allergens like peanuts. Parents will give their child a tiny taste of peanut butter and - after seeing no reaction - assume they are done, and their child has been safely introduced to peanuts.
Unfortunately, time and again, we've seen that this simply isn't the case. Scientific studies show that in order to successfully lower the risk of a peanut allergy, peanut exposure must be regular and long-term.
Enough Peanut, Enough Times
An infant showing no reaction to a fraction of a serving is a great sign, to be sure, and certainly makes you breathe a sigh of relief. But there are two important caveats to remember...
First, to be deemed non-allergic or tolerant of a protein you have to ingest enough in one sitting without a reaction. For peanut butter, that’s defined as more than two teaspoons worth. That's a lot of peanut butter for a little baby, and most babies can't eat that much when they're just starting solid foods.
Second, with baby’s rapidly changing immune system, there’s reason to believe a single exposure will not have the protective effects of sustained exposure. That means once is simply not enough. A baby must regularly eat peanuts and other potential allergens.
This is exactly why the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines specifically call for "early" and "often" introduction of peanuts to a baby's diet.
For reference, here's a First Foods Chart showing typical developmental stages and the types of foods babies eat at each month of age.
(You can save or print this chart by right-clicking on the above image)
Why So Much Peanut?
One theory for why sustained exposure is necessary is that, like the immune system, a baby’s gut bacteria changes as they go from breastfeeding to different solids. This is also the window during which the body might learn what to consider safe foods. Foods that parents don’t feed a baby would possibly be categorized by the body as unsafe. So if a child gets a food regularly, starting early, it learns to leave it alone and treat it as food.
No one has studied the relative risk of food allergies in babies who only had peanut regularly for a week vs a month vs a year, so we don’t actually know how long is enough to be protective. But we do have real solid data that regular feedings until a baby is at last 1 year old are protective, so it’s important to follow those suggestions.
We know it can be a pain getting potential allergens in baby’s diet, and keeping of this as well as all the other milestones you are monitoring (nevermind everything else in your life!).
We designed Lil Mixins to reduce the amount of time you have to spend preparing potential allergens, and we pack enough in one bottle to last you all the way until your baby can start to eat the same foods as you.
So whether you are making batches of food at home, and can mix a bit of Lli Mixins as part of your Sunday routine, or if you are grabbing a bottle or jar off the shelf, its one quick step toward making sure you are following the latest science and recommendations around early allergen exposure.
And remember, the key to successful early introduction of peanuts, eggs and other allergenic foods is EARLY and OFTEN!
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