By Kristen Chandler
Because of the steady rise of food allergies among children, when children should be introduced to specific foods has been a debatable question for quite some time. As allergies have increased, so has the age recommended for introducing potential allergens into a baby’s or toddler’s diet. There has even been speculation as to whether eating or avoiding certain foods during pregnancy would determine whether or not a child would have food allergies. In the past, doctors have recommended that peanuts not be introduced into a child’s diet until the age of three. But the number of children with peanut allergies has nearly tripled in the past 10 years, so researchers began to wonder if maybe avoiding the allergen could be the problem. Results from the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) clinical trial now suggest that early introduction to peanut protein reduces the likelihood of developing a peanut allergy.
But how would you go about introducing peanuts, specifically the protein, to a baby? Obviously, you would not give them whole peanuts, and even peanut butter would be difficult for a younger baby to swallow and digest. Not to mention all the extra sugar and other preservatives they would also ingest unless you use natural or organic peanut butter.
Allergist David Ernstein of Long Island, New York, had an idea on how to safely introduce the peanut protein to babies. With help from his wife Sivan in the naming department, he launched the brand Hello, Peanut! in March of 2016. Hello, Peanut! is a mixture of organic peanut flour and oat flakes, which is gradually increased in amount over a week-long period, making it a safe and easy way to introduce peanut to infants. Hello, Peanut! can be introduced to babies five months old and older. Its powdery texture allows you to mix it into your baby’s food. It is recommended that you mix Hello, Peanut! with a food that your baby already enjoys, to ensure they will get the full effects.
Hello, Peanut! is available in an introduction kit and a maintenance packet. The introduction kit is comprised of eight packages, with the first dose starting at 200 mg and gradually increasing over the course of a week. The maintenance packets contain 2000 mg of peanut protein. Once the introduction kit is completed, Dr. Ernstein recommends using the maintenance packets up to three times a week until your baby can tolerate peanut in other forms.
If you think your baby is having an allergic reaction caused by using Hello, Peanut!, stop using the product immediately and meet with your child’s doctor. If your baby has a diagnosed peanut allergy, do not use Hello, Peanut! If your child has any other diagnosed food allergies, is at high risk for food allergies or has eczema, you should consult with their doctor before you try Hello, Peanut!
Hello, Peanut! is recognized as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) but is pending approval for its ability to prevent peanut allergies from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hello, Peanut! is already FDA registered as an early introduction system.