When can I give my child nuts to eat?


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It is recommended by some health authorities in the west to avoid feeding children nuts before they are about three years old. There are no scientific studies backing up this recommendation at the current time. Some officials would even argue that the earlier infants are exposed to small doses of nuts, the less likely they are to develop a serious allergy to them. One study done on Jewish children in Israel showed that compared to their British counterparts, young Jewish infants were ten times less likely to develop a nut allergy when they were exposed to nuts at a very early age.
Perhaps the most positive way to determine the answer to this question is to wait for the results of an ongoing study by LEAPS (learning early about peanut allergy). This study is following a group of young children who were randomly exposed (from infancy) to peanuts under carefully controlled conditions. The study should be complete in a few years time and should provide a much-needed bit of guidance on when best to allow your children to eat nuts.

Until a concrete solution is devised, it is probably best to use your own parental judgement and watch carefully for any signs of an allergic reaction when your child ingests nuts or products containing nuts. This is especially important initially because if your child is going to develop a nut allergy it will be reasonably soon after they begin to eat them. Nut allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis and result in death if not immediately treated with a life saving dose of adrenaline. So, don’t be afraid to let your child eat nuts, but initially, watch them very carefully until you are certain they are unlikely to suffer any adverse allergic attacks.

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