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Preventing Peanut Allergies: The Full Scoop on New Guidelines

Peanuts and peanut butter are back on the menu for infants, according to new guidelines urging parents to introduce peanut products to their children starting around 4-6 months of age. Released January 5, the National Institute of Health’s new recommendations are based on research that found early and regular exposure to peanut products resulted in the prevention of peanut allergies in a large number of infants.

The guidelines explain how to introduce the products depending on the child’s risk level of developing an allergy:

  • Low risk children: Those without eczema or food allergies can be freely introduced to peanut containing foods at home around 4-6 months.
  • Medium risk children: Those with mild to moderate eczema should be introduced to peanut foods around 6 months either at home or under the supervision of a healthcare provider, depending on family and cultural preferences.
  • High risk children: Those with severe eczema or egg allergy or both are considered high risk. They should first be evaluated with a blood test or skin prick test as early as 4-6 months before being introduced to peanut products under supervision by a healthcare provider.

In addition, the report noted children should first be introduced to other solid foods before trying peanut products. Whole nuts should not be given to children under 5 years of age. Peanut butter directly from a spoon or in lumps/dollops should not be given to children less than 4 years of age. Instead, parents can dilute peanut butter or peanut flour, mix it with a fruit or vegetable puree or feed their children peanut puff products.

Coverage of the new guidelines is widespread, with many experts offering their support of the guidelines:

  • According to an ABC News report, the recommendations are based on landmark research that found early exposure is far more likely to protect babies from developing peanut allergies than to harm them. The guidelines spell out exactly how to introduce infants to age-appropriate peanut products depending on whether they’re at high, moderate or low risk of becoming allergic as they grow.
  • “Many, many people were asking their doctors, their pediatricians, ‘We’ve heard about this wonderful information; what should we do?’” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN. “The professional societies — such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, etc. — all decided they needed to get together and sit down in a few meetings and put together some guidelines.”
  • “This update to the peanut guidelines offers a lot of promise,” allergist Dr. Stephen Tilles, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), said in a statement to CBS News. “Peanut allergy has literally become an epidemic in recent years, and now we have a clear roadmap to prevent many new cases moving forward.”
  • For years, pediatricians advised avoiding peanuts until age 3 for children thought to be at risk. But the delay didn’t help, and that recommendation was dropped in 2008, although parent wariness of peanuts persists, according to theAssociated Press. Dr. Scott Sicherer, who represented the American Academy of Pediatrics on the guidelines panel, says “it’s old news, wrong old news, to wait.”
  • The recommendations provide guidance about how to safely introduce young children to peanuts from an early age, depending on their risk level of developing an allergy. An article in TIME magazine states the hope is that by introducing peanuts early enough to children who might be allergic to them, doctors may be able to prevent them from ever developing a full-fledged allergy. While it’s not entirely clear how that happens, some kind of tolerance is likely involved.
  • Allergic Living reports in the LEAP study, early consumption of peanut reduced the risk of developing peanut allergy by 86 percent for children with negative skin prick tests and by 70 percent for those who were mildly sensitized infants.
  • The Washington Post reminds parents that a child’s pediatrician should go over the signs of an allergic reaction, but including things like a hivelike rash, vomiting, coughing, wheezing or a child otherwise looking lethargic or ill.
  • “This won’t outright prevent every single case of peanut allergy – there will still be some cases – but the number could be significantly reduced by tens of thousands,” Dr. Greenhawt, chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s food allergy committee told The New York Times. “In the best case scenario, every allergist across the U.S. could be seeing fewer cases of peanut allergy – and that’s a good problem to have.”

Want to learn more? Check out MashableRomperTodayU.S. NewsUSA Today, and Vox for even more details.

Florida Peanut Farmers Begin Peanut Leadership Academy Class X

Twenty-three peanut growers and sheller representatives from across the Southeast, Texas and the Virginia-Carolina area began Class X of the Peanut Leadership Academy Dec. 12-14, 2016, in Miramar Beach, Florida. The Peanut Leadership Academy is hosted by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and is a cooperative effort between Syngenta Crop Protection, the American Peanut Shellers Association and grower organizations. The program began in 1998 with the first class of 14 peanut growers from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Since then, the academy has continued to grow to include growers from Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and sheller representatives.

Activities in the leadership program are structured to give participants a thorough understanding of the U.S. peanut industry. Throughout the course of 18 months and five sessions, program attendees participate in sessions ranging from field trips, meetings with industry leaders and professional development training, as well as one session in Washington, D.C., where class members have an opportunity to visit with members of Congress about issues affecting the peanut industry. During this time, class members build on leadership skills, discuss and debate key industry issues and build relationships.

During the first session of the program, leadership academy attendees were introduced, presented an overview of the peanut industry and able to attend the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation annual meeting where they had the opportunity to listen to grower and industry reports. Participating Florida growers in Class X include: Blaire Colvin, Citra; and Ryan Jenkins, Pace.

For more information on the Peanut Leadership Academy please contact the Florida Peanut Producers Association or visit

AL-FL Peanut Trade Show February 9th

The 12th annual Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show will be held Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds, located on Hwy. 231 South in Dothan, Alabama.

Sponsored by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) and the Florida Peanut Producers Association (FPPA), the one-day event offers farmers a full day to view the industry products and services of more than 80 exhibitors. The trade show opens at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until noon with a lunch immediately following.

Dr. Marshall Lamb will speak to growers about crop outlook as well as the current market status.

Peanut growers who attend will not only be able to fine tune their farming operations, but will have a chance to win prizes valued at more than $20,000.

Kelley Manufacturing Company will be providing this year’s Grand Door Prize. The winner will receive the use of a new 6 Row Peanut Combine, on the winner’s farm, for the 2017 peanut harvesting season, with the option of purchasing the combine through an authorized KMC dealer with $15,000 off the list price.

The Grower Prize is being sponsored by Amadas. The use of a new 4-Row or 6-Row Amadas Peanut Digger/Inverter for the 2017 harvest season or $10,000 towards the purchase of a new Amadas Self-Propelled Peanut Combine or $5,000 towards the purchase of a new Amadas 4-Row or 6-Row Pull-Type Peanut Combine.

All winners must be certified as a peanut grower with an FSA farm number, and must be present to win.

All peanut growers are invited and encouraged to attend.

For more information contact the FPPA office: 850-526-2590.