Since January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day, coming up next week, let’s discuss one of the most dangerous allergies, especially to children who really enjoy their peanut butter and jelly and the arguments for giving or not giving peanut butter to young children in potentially high risk allergic groups.
Let’s face it, if you’re a kid, or even a kid at heart, you love peanut butter and jelly. Who doesn’t? Unfortunately, peanut butter doesn’t love everybody as many are allergic to it and this is one allergy that can be downright deadly. Recently a girl died just because she had kissed somebody who had eaten peanut butter. That is a very scary thought.
One of the biggest controversies these days is when to actually allow your child to start having peanut butter. Years ago the only warning was not to give your child big chunks of peanut butter but to spread it thin. This could be started at any age. But today, with the alarming number of kids turning out to be allergic to peanut butter, it is recommended that a child not be given peanut butter until 2 or 3 years of age. Even though allergies to peanut butter are not the most common, they are the most deadly and because of this it is believed extra care is needed. Also, these allergies are the least likely to be outgrown.
There are several determining factors in avoiding giving your child peanut butter. The first factor is if they have shown allergies or intolerances to other foods or even their baby formula. Then there is whether or not they have other allergic type disorders such as eczema, allergic rhinitis, or asthma or if they have members in the family that have these conditions as allergies can be inherited. Also, if they have other family members with food allergies, especially if another family member is allergic to peanut butter.
It is actually recommended that for high risk children they not only avoid peanut butter until they are older but also cow’s milk, citrus fruits and juices and wheat until they are at least 1 year old. They should avoid eggs until age 2 and finally peanuts and shellfish until they are over 2 years of age.
This is where the controversy heats up. Some experts say that children who are not considered to be in a high risk group do not have to do these things. Others say that because food allergies, especially peanuts, are so deadly that it just doesn’t make sense not to err on the side of caution. They say that even children not in a high risk group can still have allergies to peanuts and therefore the only way to avoid a reaction is to never allow them to eat peanut butter. Some say that’s extreme, others say that one reaction can be the last one.
Ultimately, it comes down to the parent. You have to weigh the risks of giving your child peanut butter against the benefits. Yes, peanuts are high in protein and peanut butter and jelly is a very convenient and easy lunch to make, especially for bringing to school. But if your child is severely allergic it only takes one bite of one sandwich. And even if your child is not allergic, someone else might be, so it is best to err on the side of caution.
With an increasing number of children having to live with allergies of one kind or another, it would be beneficial to make sure others know about these. My Identity Doctor offers a variety of medical jewelry to let people know about your child’s allergies.