Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new labels for infant foods containing peanuts, noting that consumption may reduce the risk of developing an allergy.
The Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. was published on September 8th and quotes findings of a clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Health which found that introducing foods containing smooth peanut butter to babies as early as 4 months old who are at high risk of developing a peanut allergy (due to severe eczema or egg allergy or both) reduces their risk of developing peanut allergy later in childhood by about 80 percent. The clinical trial found that introducing peanuts to infants who were at high risk of a peanut allergy dramatically reduced their chance of developing it in childhood.
Gottlieb noted that “one of the most challenging decisions for parents of my generation is when and how to introduce foods that pose a potential for a significant allergic reaction. These decisions are made more difficult as the prevalence of certain food allergies appear to be on the rise.” Parents were advised to avoid exposing high-risk children to peanuts, but “new evidence-based guidelines recommend that the medical community consider a different approach.” The guidelines now recommend that “parents of infants with severe eczema, egg allergy, or both introduce peanut-containing foods into a child’s diet as early as 4 to 6 months of age.”
This is the first time the FDA has recognized a qualified health claim to prevent a food allergy. The main purpose of the new labels is to make sure parents are abreast of the latest science and can make informed decisions about how they choose to approach these challenging issues.
The new label will read
For most infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy who are already eating solid foods, introducing foods containing ground peanuts between 4 and 10 months of age and continuing consumption may reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy by 5 years of age. FDA has determined, however, that the evidence supporting this claim is limited to one study. If your infant has severe eczema and/or egg allergy, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.