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New NIH Guidelines: Exposing Infants to Peanuts Early Could Reduce Risk of Developing Peanut Allergy

etorres69/iStock/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- New guidance from the National Institutes of Health recommends introducing food containing peanuts to infants in an effort to prevent the development of peanut allergies.

"Living with peanut allergy requires constant vigilance. Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci said. "We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by health care providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States."

The newest guidelines supplement guidelines released in 2010.

One guideline recommends that children at high risk of developing a peanut allergy -- children who already have severe eczema, egg allergy, or both -- should be exposed to peanut-containing foods as early as four to six months of age.

Children with mild to moderate eczema should begin eating peanut-containing foods around six months of age. All children should begin eating other solid foods before being given food containing peanuts.

The NIH says that a study involving more than 600 infants found that early introduction of peanut-containing foods "significantly lowered the risk of developing peanut allergy by age 5."

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