Putting Food First: Using Real Food for Early Introduction

Puffworks baby early and often

Preventing Peanut Allergy with Real, Nutritious Food

Note: this blog post was updated on Feb. 3 given FDA’s approval of Palforzia

Doctors and parents know that preventing peanut allergy is better than becoming allergic and then treating it.  And keeping babies healthy with real food is better than protein powders in "doses." 

There is now widespread agreement and growing enthusiasm about how parents can reduce their infants' risk of developing peanut allergy with the early introduction of peanut foods.  And for children who already have peanut allergy, there is the promise of a treatment called OIT (immunotherapy) that was recently approved.

For those who are already allergic to peanut, the FDA has approved Palforzia a treatment (OIT), that is expected to help children with peanut allergy avoid life-threatening reactions if they accidentally eat peanut.  All of us at Puffworks are excited about the relief this may bring many parents and children, but Palforzia is not a cure.

  • Some children who take Palforzia will have an anaphylactic reaction and will have to stop treatment. 
  • Treatment will not be effective in many children.
  • Some studies even suggest that more children who take OIT will have allergic reactions than those who simply avoid peanut.
  • Treatment is expensive and may be necessary for a lifetime. 
  • Successful treatment should prevent a child from developing anaphylaxis if they accidentally eat a tiny amount of peanut, but it will not make it possible to eat a handful of peanuts or have a peanut butter sandwich.

For infants who do not have food allergy, one way to prevent the development of food allergy is introducing foods early to baby's diet.  The Learning Early About Peanut Study (LEAP) showed that eating peanut food prevents infants from developing peanut allergy.  Other studies have shown that the same appears to be true for other "Big Eight" allergenic foods—Tree Nut, Milk, Egg, Fish, Seafood, Wheat, and Soy. 

Some companies have developed protein powders derived from peanut or a mix of Big Eight foods for parents to administer to infants in specially dosed packets.  While this may actually be effective, it is unnecessary.  Studies showing the protective effect of the early introduction of allergens to infants used actual foodPuffworks baby can prevent peanut allergy and, unlike protein powders, is nutritious, delicious, fed as a meal or snack instead of a dose, and is reasonably priced

For more detail on preventing food allergy with food, check out EatTheEight.com and Eat The Eight, Preventing Food Allergy with Food and the Imperfect Art of Medicine,by Dr. Ron Sunog, pediatrician and Medical Advisor to Puffworks.