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  • NEW STUDY: 40% of doctors give outdated advice on peanut allergy prevention

    By: Jessica Huhn

NEW STUDY: 40% of doctors give outdated advice on peanut allergy prevention

By: Jessica Huhn

NEW STUDY: 40% of doctors give outdated advice on peanut allergy prevention

By: Jessica Huhn

Learn more about how a new study reveals that 4 in 10 primary care doctors are giving outdated advice on food allergy prevention and how parents can be armed with the correct information to prevent 80% of food allergies.

Clinical guidelines from the NIAID, released in 2017, recommend introducing peanut to babies early and often for the best chance of preventing peanut allergies. These guidelines are based on landmark studies, mainly the LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) study.

But surprisingly, many doctors still don't know about these guidelines. According to a recent study, 4 in 10 primary care doctors are giving the wrong advice about when to introduce peanut.  

In this article, we'll:

  • Give an overview of the NIAID guidelines
  • Break down the findings from this important study, and what they mean for families
  • Provide resources for discussing new allergy prevention guidelines with your doctor

NIAID Guidelines: An Overview

The NIAID guidelines state that:

Infants who have severe eczema, egg allergy, or both are at the highest risk for peanut allergy.

If your infant is in this risk category:

  • Introduce them to peanut as early as 4-6 months of age. 
  • Talk to your doctor before starting early peanut introduction at home. The NIAID strongly recommends that infants in this risk category get tested for peanut allergy in a clinical setting before starting peanut introduction at home.

Infants with mild to moderate eczema are at moderate risk for peanut allergy. If your infant is in this risk category, they should be introduced to peanut around 6 months of age.

Infants with no eczema or egg allergy are at lower risk for peanut allergy. If your infant is in this risk category, they should be introduced to peanut before they turn one.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID, explains the importance of these new guidelines "For a study to show a benefit of this magnitude in the prevention of peanut allergy is without precedent. The results have the potential to transform how we approach food allergy prevention. We're talking about saving thousands and thousands of kids from peanut allergies."  

“We're talking about saving thousands and thousands of kids from peanut allergies." - Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID

Study Findings:  Many doctors aren't aware of the new guidelines

The lead researchers surveyed primary care doctors at two large academic centers about their knowledge of the NIAID guidelines for early peanut introduction. 210 doctors answered the seven-question survey.

The study reveals that:

  • 40% of the doctors incorrectly thought that the earliest age children should be introduced to peanut is over 1 year of age. 
    • As a result, these doctors are giving families incorrect advice on how to prevent peanut allergies.
    • Remember that the NIAID guidelines recommend introducing peanut as early as 4-6 months. 
  • More than half of the doctors didn't know about the NIAID guidelines. 
  • The doctors answered only ⅓ of the questions about peanut allergy prevention incorrectly.
  • Doctors who said they knew about the guidelines were more likely to answer the knowledge-based questions correctly.
  • Doctors who graduated from their residency in the past 5 years were also more likely to answer the knowledge-based questions correctly. (This is likely because they were exposed to current research and guidelines during their training). 

What does this mean for families? 

While we know pediatricians play an important role in your child’s health, we want to empower families with the knowledge to prevent 80% of food allergies in line with the NIAID guidelines. According to this research, many doctors may likely give the wrong advice about introducing peanut so it’s important for parents to be armed with the correct information. The science is clear: introducing allergens early (starting at 4-6 months) can often can significantly reduce your baby’s risk of developing food allergies. In addition, according to the LEAP study and NIAID guidelines, we also know that waiting to introduce peanut actually can increase your baby's risk for food allergies.

How to discuss early allergen introduction with your doctor

To raise awareness of the NIAID guidelines (and other clinical guidelines supporting early introduction of peanut, plus egg and milk), we've put together a blog post and PDF guide on 5 questions to ask your doctor about food allergy prevention. Learn more in the link below.

 

  

 

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.

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