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Early introduction to peanuts or nuts could go a long way to preventing an allergy

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)- There’s no real answer as to why a growing number of children in the U.S. have a peanut allergy, but experts say not exposing them early is a factor.

“We may be introducing high allergen foods such as peanuts or nuts a little bit later than we should by doing so children are becoming sensitized,” said Noted Pediatric Allergy Specialist Dr. Jeffrey Factor with New England Food Allergy Treatment Center.

Factor said that’s what led The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to issue new guidelines to prevent peanut allergy.

It recommended those at high risk infants with severe asthma, egg allergy or both, get tested.

“If they are not, we can actually introduce peanut as early as four to six months,” said Dr. Factor.

A blood test or a skin prick test will help determine whether an infant is allergic to peanuts.

If severe, no exposure.

Still, if moderate?

“If it’s small enough, we would definitely introduce peanut in an office setting, in a controlled setting to make sure they can tolerate peanut and many of these kids can,” said Factor.

No eczema, food allergies or family history, it’s family preference.

“I still would advise introducing it early as opposed to later but it’s not as crucial,” said Dr. Factor, “You can try small amount of peanut butter at home in those low risk children and the chances are very low anything will happen.”

Jake Meyrowitz is in the middle of getting rid of his peanut allergy.

Today, it’s the hazelnut challenge.

“I’m doing pretty good. I’m almost done with it and no reaction so far,” said Meyrowitz.

But keeps his EpiPens and medical kit handy.

The 14-year-old welcomes the updated direction.

“Because I think, obviously, this is a great program to help me get rid of the allergy,” said Jake, “But I feel like if I had done it earlier also, I could have had a whole bunch of new opportunities earlier, when I was younger, instead of having it now.”

More questions, be sure to talk to your pediatrician or allergy specialist.

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