New study says giving babies peanuts may help them avoid allergy

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It's a huge leap for the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA will now allow companies to update their labels to say some foods containing peanuts can prevent a peanut allergy.

For years, parents have been skeptical about giving their children peanut products out of fear they could be allergic. But a new study says peanuts could be exactly what they need.

"What it's saying is that these kids with exposure to peanuts earlier this may be helpful in preventing peanut allergies in the future," said Anna Busenburg, a dietitian at St. Vincent Hospital.

A new National Institutes of Health study found introducing foods with peanut butter to babies as young as 4 months who are at high risk of developing a peanut allergy—due to severe eczema or egg allergy – reduces their risk of developing the allergy later in childhood by about 80%.

Now, the FDA will allow companies that sell food for children to use labels that claim the food can actually prevent food allergies.

"Again this claim of exposing your kids to peanuts earlier is for those people who and their children who don't have peanut allergies yet. If your kid already has and has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy then there's no cure for that. Don't go giving your child peanuts," Busenburg said.

This news is getting mixed reviews from parents CBS4 talked to.

"If I could prevent allergies for my children for the rest of their lives, absolutely. I have a kiddo with milk allergies so to be able to not have to avoid all of those foods, ok," mother JoBeth Clark said.

CBS4 found a new first-time mom who says she's skeptical about taking a chance with giving peanuts to her son.

"I'm terrified he'll have one. My husband and I we don't have any and we really don't have that many problems in our family with it but it could happen and I don't think I want to try it," Melody McBroom said.

This is the first time the FDA has recognized a qualified health claim to prevent a food allergy. But as we know, a peanut allergy can have some serious side effects, including death, so parents should still talk to their pediatrician before introducing peanut products into their child’s diet.

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