IT’S ALMOST REDUNDANT to say that a peanut allergy can be serious. Deadly even (…insert scary movie theme song here). This is why it’s understandable that many schools and daycare centers take extreme precautions to make sure an emergency does not happen. But as a parent, how can you really know if PB&J’s are in your kid’s future?
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has modified it’s peanut allergy prevention guidelines. Here they are:
- Babies who are 4-6 months old and have mild eczema CAN be introduced to foods with peanuts (obviously in creamed versions; clearly choking is still a hazard).
- If there is a high chance for an infant to be genetically predisposed to a peanut allergy or if the eczema is severe, an IgE blood test (measuring the level of immunoglobulin that makes someone more likely to respond to peanut protein with severe allergy symptoms) and a skin prick test in now available.
About the tests…
Step 1: The IgE measurement: This is a simple blood test and .035 is the magic number. According to the NIAID, if the level of this IgE marker results to be less than .035 kUa/L, the risk of a severe allergic reaction is low. Peanut products can be introduced at home. If this level is equal to or more than .035 kUa/L, parents should book a skin prick test with an allergist.
*(kUa/L = fancy units of measurements doctors and scientists use)
Step 2: Skin prick testing: Involves pricking the skin with tiny amount of peanut extract. If a wheal (circular red mark on the skin that only lasts for a few minutes) develops, that’s ok, as long as the mark is under 2 millimeters. If the wheal expands to 3 to 7 millimeters, parents can still set up a trial of peanut products in a doctor’s office, although the child is more likely to respond with allergy symptoms. If the mark grows to 8 millimeters or more, this may be concerning for a severe allergy.