Children and peanut allergy

A peanut allergy is when your child’s immune system reacts to a normally harmless protein in peanuts. Allergic reactions can be mild such as skin welts, tingling mouth and stomach symptoms. However, some can be life-threatening (anaphylaxis). 1, 2

Peanut allergy has increased in children during the past few decades. The current rate is 3% of one-year olds. The reasons aren’t fully understood yet, but most likely it involves an interaction between genes and external factors. 2, 3

One of the external factors may actually be the increase in peanut-free diets that aim to protect children from allergy. Studies now show this may be having the opposite effect. 3, 4 It appears the older some children are the first time they eat peanuts, the less efficient their stomachs are at learning the difference between a harmless peanut protein and a harmful protein, such as a virus or bacteria. 5

What to do

* If your child has a known peanut allergy, definitely avoid peanuts and have emergency treatment ready in case of anaphylaxis. 2

* If your child is at high-risk of developing a peanut allergy (this may be defined as having a sibling or parent with a known allergy), 6 eating peanuts may help prevent an allergy developing. 4, 7, 8

Speak with a doctor before introducing peanuts to receive appropriate testing and advice. 7

* If your child isn’t at high-risk, after you start introducing other solid foods to your baby from around 6 months of age, you can also introduce peanuts. 4, 6, 9

Speak with a doctor before introducing peanuts, particularly if you’re uncertain about the risk.

* Advice on introducing peanuts may include: start with foods like peanut butter, not whole peanuts (which can cause choking); the first time should be at home; if your child has no allergic reaction, you may gradually increase the amount. 6

Visit www.allergy.org.au

Southgate Medical Centre
3 Southgate Ave
Southbank VIC 3006


  1. Royal Children’s Hospital. Allergic and anaphylactic reactions. http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Allergic_and_anaphylactic_reactions/

Accessed April 3 2015

  1. ASCIA. Peanut, tee nut and seed allergy.

http://www.allergy.org.au/images/pcc/ASCIA_PCC_Peanut_treenut_seed_allergy_2014.pdf Accessed April 3 2015

  1. ASCIA. Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Update: 2014. http://www.allergy.org.au/images/stories/hp/info/ASCIA_food_allergy_and_anaphylaxis_update_April_2014.pdf Accessed April 3 2015
  1. AAAAI. Primary Prevention of Allergic Disease Through Nutritional Interventions: Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.aaaai.org/Aaaai/media/MediaLibrary/PDF%20Documents/Libraries/Preventing-Allergies-Healthcare-15.pdf Accessed April 3 2015
  1. Bammann M. Feeding in the first year of life. AFP, 2012;4(41):226-229
  1. Fleischer DM, et al. Primaryprevention of allergic disease through nutritional interventions. J Allergy Clin Immunol: In Practice, 2013;1:29-36
  1. Gruchalla RS and Sampson HA. Preventing Peanut Allergy through Early Consumption – Ready for Prime Time? NEJM, 2015;372(9):875-877
  1. Du Toit G, et al. Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy. NEJM, 2015;372(9):803-813
  1. NH&MRC. Infant Feeding Guidelines. 2012. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n56_infant_feeding_guidelines.pdf

Accessed April 3 2015

Southgate Medical Centre
3 Southgate Ave
Southbank VIC 3006