Health officials in the US, UK and Canada advise parents not to introduce peanut butter to their childrens' diet until around age 2 as a way to decrease the chances of developing a sensitivity/allergy to peanuts. Because our younger son is considered at risk for a peanut allergy based on family history, i.e., Abigail, we were told to wait even longer until he is 3. However, there are many countries where children eat peanut products from infancy on that do not show the high levels of peanut allergies as seen in Western countries. This study (which is now full) looks at these two schools of thought. Here's an excerpt from their site:
The majority of children have their first allergic reaction to peanut between 14 and 24 months of age. Children suffering from eczema or who are allergic to egg are at highest risk - these children have a 20% chance of going on to develop a peanut allergy.
The LEAP Study involves 640 such high-risk children who were enrolled in the study when aged 4-10 months. Each child was randomly assigned to follow one of the two approaches – avoidance or consumption. Children in the avoidance group avoid eating peanut-containing foods until they reach the age of three. In the consumption group, parents are asked to feed their child an age-appropriate peanut snack three times per week (equivalent to about 6 grams of peanut protein per week). All participants receive allergy testing, dietary counseling, physical examinations and will be asked to provide occasional blood samples that will be used to examine differences in immune system development in each of the study groups.
The proportion of each group that develops peanut allergy by 5 years of age will be used to determine which approach - avoidance or consumption - works best for preventing peanut allergy. We anticipate that the study will reach completion in 2013, at which time the results will be analyzed and published.
There is some great informative on their site, and if you are dealing with a peanut allergy, it's very much worth checking out. There is one topic that I wanted to point out. The site discusses the "Allergy March", which is a term they use to explain how allergic diseases progress throughout a person's life. According to the site, the Allergy March begins with eczema which is usually diagnosed within the first few months of life. In 1/3 to 1/2 of children, eczema is linked to an underlying food allergy. They go on to explain that food allergies appear in the first 3 years of life and that the development pattern of allergic diseases, the type