We wanted to take a moment to reassure parents that it's still safe to introduce allergens, namely peanut, during the Coronavirus pandemic.
To help we've turned to our medical advisor, pediatrician, and author of Eat the Eight - Preventing Food Allergy with Food and the Imperfect Art of Medicine Dr. Ron Sunog to help address some concerns parents might be facing.
Here's what Dr. Ron had to say:
Is it safe to introduce allergens to my baby during the Coronavirus outbreak - given it would be riskier to go to the ER in case of a reaction?
The risk of an allergic reaction for low-risk infants—no eczema or egg allergy—is very low, and parents should not hesitate to introduce any food. The benefits of eating the most common food allergens are much higher than the risks.
Corona needs to be taken seriously, but risks and benefits must always be weighed. Doctors office visits are limited these days in order to maintain proper social distancing, but there remain good reasons to go to the doctors office, such as having infants get their vaccines. (No point in avoiding Corona, only to get Whooping Cough.) The likelihood of a reaction to food is low, but should it occur, give Benadryl and either go to the ER if there is difficulty breathing (rare), or call your child's pediatrician's office to arrange a safe urgent visit.
High risk infants—with eczema and/or egg allergy—are at significant risk of peanut allergy. With severe eczema, the risk of peanut allergy is over 20%. I would not ignore the risk of a "lifetime sentence" of peanut avoidance, even in the age of Corona. Call your doctor to arrange a peanut allergy test to make sure that your infant is not already allergic. This can be a blood test at the lab or skin test at the allergist's office. With proper planning—minimizing contact with others—these visits can be very low risk. If the tests are negative, have them eat Puffworks baby!
What if my baby has a reaction? Can I do anything at home to lessen the severity of possible symptoms?
It's a good idea to have Benadryl on hand - for all families. The dosage is about 1 mg/kg, but it's a good idea to check with your doctor on what is safe to administer based on your baby's weight before you attempt to introduce allergenic foods, if you're unsure.
For more dialogue around this topic, check out @babyledweanteam's IGTV episode where Katie Ferraro, a dietitian and infant feeding specialist, and mother of seven chats with Dr. Sunog on this topic.
If you have more specific questions for Dr. Ron we might have missed, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in-touch with him directly!
Stay safe and healthy everyone - and don't forget to wash everyone's hands before eating anything!