The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new labels for peanut-containing foods suitable for infants, noting that they may reduce the risk of developing an allergy.
Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the agency would allow updated labels on some peanut-containing foods in light of a recent study, as well as previous National Institutes of Health recommendations. The clinical trial found that introducing foods containing smooth peanut butter to infants who were at high risk of a peanut allergy dramatically reduced their risk of developing it in childhood. The previous guidelines released in January offered details on when and how parents can introduce peanut-containing foods to children, including those at high risk of developing an allergy.
Products are already labeled with allergy-causing ingredients, including peanuts. The new labeling will advise parents to check with a child's doctor before introducing peanut-containing foods. This does not change the warning against whole peanuts, as they "are a choking hazard for young children and should not be consumed."
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.
Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in the United States, with rates doubling from 1997 to 2008. Currently, about 2 percent of American children are allergic to peanuts. A serious reaction can lead to anaphylaxis and, rarely, death. For children who have a high risk of developing a peanut allergy, doctors previously advised parents to hold off on introducing peanut-containing foods until the age of 3.
And for infants showing no signs of food allergies and no family history, don't worry. Parents are recommended to introduce foods according to their families' preferences and cultural practices.