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COLUMBIA - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced there will soon be new labels on foods that contain ground peanuts that are suitable for infants to eat. The announcement came after a study found that introducing peanut products to infants who are at risk for a peanut allergy can help prevent them from forming the allergy.

The study stated that introducing peanut products to infants between four and 10 months led to an approximately 80 percent decrease in the development of the allergy.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) supported the study, and the Immune Tolerance Network, which is funded by the NIAID, conducted the study.

Dr. William Stricker, an allergist-immunologist at Allergy and Asthma Consultants in Columbia, said the recommendation for dealing with peanut allergies in infants has certainly changed.

“The approach was always avoid those things aggressively in those high-risk patients. This study has absolutely reversed that concept because it showed that early introduction helped actually prevent the development allergy to peanuts, specifically in this particular study, over a period of several years,” Stricker said.

He said parents should speak with a specialist before giving their infant peanut products. 

“This is still not something to do without an advice and recommendation by the treating physician,” Stricker said.

Heather Ninichuck has a 4-year-old child with a peanut allergy. She said she and her husband never really paid much attention to whether they were feeding their daughter peanut products. She said they noticed her allergy when she was about one year old and began eating peanut butter.

Ninichuck said she hopes the new labels will help guide parents.

“Hopefully it helps parents make that decision instead of being kind of lost of what to do,” Ninichuck said. “At least it gives us a little better guide.”

The statement from the FDA did not specify when products will start to be labeled with the advice about early introduction to peanut products. 

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