Dr. advises no peanut butter before 3 years

My pediatrician advised me to not feed my children under three peanut butter due to the rising incidences of peanut allergies. Is there any literature supporting this?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Judy,

In all the reading I have done, I have not come across such news. It seems contrary to my understanding of allergies. I do not understand why a particular allergy would be on the increase, since allergies are not something that you catch. A person must first have a genetic tendency for an allergy before they will get it. Perhaps your pediatrician is confusing an increase in the number of cases of peanut allergies with an increase in reporting. For any food that is a common allergen, it is best to wait until one year of age before introducing them to a child who has a family history of allergies. This time wait gives the child's immune system and digestive system a chance to mature to a point where it can better handle the allergens. However, unlike other common allergens, children allergic to peanuts tend to never 'outgrow' the allergy.

Unless you have a family history of allergies, particularly to peanuts, there is no need to wait to introduce peanut butter, since if he is allergic to it, age seems not to be a factor in the case of peanuts. If he isn't allergic than you will not have withheld a great kid food that can make a very positive contribution to his diet.

If I do come across such news in the nutrition literature that I read, I will report it on the Ask the Nutritionist page for everyone's information.

Thanks for writing.

Sincerely,
Sue Gilbert

Followup Comment:

Dear Judy,

I have done a little more reading and did notice literature in which there is a reported rise in peanut allergies amongst toddlers. The reasoning is that more toddlers are eating peanuts and peanut butter. The interesting note is that the research was carried out in England and France, where peanut butter was not typically consumed by kids. It seems perhaps, that they are now catching up to the U.S. The studies did not mention an increase in peanut allergies in the United States.

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