Two-Thirds of Pediatricians Not Following Current Guidelines on Peanut Allergy Prevention

July 22, 2020 2 min read

Two-Thirds of Pediatricians Not Following Current Guidelines on Peanut Allergy Prevention

A new report published in JAMA found that as many as two-thirds of pediatricians in the United States do not follow the newest guidelines about how to introduce peanuts to children for food allergy prevention. The study surveyed 1,781 U.S. pediatricians and found:
  • 93% of respondents were aware of the guidelines
    • Of those who knew about the guidelines: 29% were fully implementing them
    • 64% were partially implementing them

"This is a really important discussion that needs to be had between parents and pediatricians. Parents of babies in this age group should talk to their pediatrician,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent.

How Parents Can Help Prevent Food Allergies

“Parents need to be at the forefront of food allergy protection and early feeding. It’s imperative that they are talking to their pediatrician about not just introducing peanut, but also all the other common allergens, at their 4 and 6-month well-child checks. We know there is a critical window of development for babies to start eating diverse foods and common allergens which begins around 4-6 months of age. The risk is not so much in a potential allergic reaction, but in delaying the introduction of common allergens,” said SpoonfulOne Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson.

Why Are Pediatricians Struggling With Peanut Introduction Guidelines?

The most common reasons pediatricians reported as barriers to following the guidelines are as follows:

  • 36.6% - Parental concerns about allergic reactions
  • 33.2% - Uncertainty in understanding and correctly applying the guidelines
  • 32.4% - Conducting in-office supervised feedings
  • 68.4% - Need further training on the guidelines

What Do The 2017 Peanut Introduction Guidelines State?

  1. Children who have significant or severe eczema, egg allergy or both: these children should undergo evaluation for allergic sensitization to peanut through specific IgE (sIgE) test and/or skin prick testing and, if necessary, an oral food challenge. Depending on the test results, peanut products should be introduced into the diet as early as 4 to 6 months of age.
  2. Children with mild to moderate eczema: these children should begin peanut consumption around age 6 months.
  3. Children with no eczema or food allergies and no family history: these children may consume peanut when age-appropriate, in accordance with family preference and cultural practices.

The bottom line: Don’t delay introducing foods to infants that commonly cause food allergies, like peanut. The longer a parent waits, the more the risk.