Speed Reads

pass the peanuts

The earlier kids try peanuts, the less likely they may be to develop a peanut allergy

Proactivity may be the solution to peanut allergies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released new guidelines Thursday on peanut allergies, and the big takeaway is that the more susceptible a kid is to a peanut allergy, the earlier he or she should start eating peanuts. The advice is a big shift from pediatricians' previous advice to avoid giving at-risk kids peanuts until they are 3 years old.

Now, studies indicate that for particularly high-risk kids, the ideal age to start noshing on peanut-based foods is between 4 and 6 months. Kids who are less susceptible can hold off until about 6 months, and kids at no risk whatsoever are free to try peanuts as they please. Indications that a baby may be at high risk for developing a peanut allergy include severe asthma, the skin rash eczema, or egg allergies. In some particularly high-risk cases, babies might need a check-up before they get their first taste of a peanut.

By introducing peanuts earlier, scientists are hopeful it will cut back on the growing problem of peanut allergies. Right now, about 2 percent of American kids are allergic. "It's an important step forward," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "When you do desensitize them from an early age, you have a very positive effect."