Peanut Allergy in Babies – Signs, Causes and Treatment

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Peanut Allergy in Babies

The time between 6 to 12 months of your baby is very important for introducing new foods. During this time, you start giving them solids and check whether the baby has any allergic reaction to them or not. Even doctors advise providing as many new food items as possible during this time to avoid an allergic reaction to food later on. One such common allergy is peanut allergy in babies.

Peanut allergy cases are increasing day by day. From the year 2010 to 2017 it almost increased up to 21 percent. The reason why peanuts are causing increasing allergies is still unknown. But peanut allergy can cause severe conditions like anaphylaxis. So as new parents you should know about peanut allergy, its symptoms, preventions and treatments to recognize it and take immediate action.

In This Article

What is Peanut Allergy?

Peanut is not truly a nut, it falls under the group of legumes, similar to peas, beans and lentils. But its protein structure is similar to the other tree nuts like almonds, walnut, cashews, etc. A peanut allergy occurs when our body’s immune system mistakenly considers the peanut protein as a harmful invader.

So, to fight it off our immune system works hard and this, in turn, causes allergic reactions. It is still unknown why some babies have a peanut allergy, and other don’t. But introducing a small amount of peanuts earlier (between 6-12 months) can reduce the chances of allergies.

Signs and Symptoms of Peanut Allergy in Babies

Symptoms of Peanut Allergy in Babies

As with most allergies, and with peanut allergy too, your baby’s body releases a chemical called histamine when they are experiencing episodes of allergy to peanuts.

Common Symptoms of Peanut Allergy in Babies

  • Swollen and watery eyes
  • Eye itchiness, puffiness around eyes
  • Redness, swelling, and hives in the skin
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Throat tightness, itching and swelling
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Breathing problems and wheezing
  • Weak pulse
  • Hoarseness
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms can be different for each baby having a peanut allergy. But all these symptoms are relatively and can get resolved in some time with little help at home.

What is deadly is peanut allergy-induced anaphylaxis. Then immediate medical attention is required and you may even have to rush your baby to emergency care.

Symptoms of Peanut Allergy-Induced Anaphylaxis in Babies

  • Severe drop in blood pressure
  • Constriction of airways due to extreme swelling of the throat
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness and loss of consciousness

Diagnosis of Peanut Allergy in Babies

Skin prick tests on babies

In most cases, you can notice immediate allergic reactions in your baby if they have a peanut allergy. If only one of the above symptoms is occurring, then the reaction is mild. But if two symptoms occur at the same time such as vomiting along with skin hives then the reaction is a bit serious. Then you must take your baby for a check-up to see whether the reaction is under control or not.

In rare cases, reactions can occur after 2 to 4 hours. Since babies eat every 2 to 3 hours, it becomes difficult to diagnose a delayed reaction. The symptoms also may not occur equally or altogether in your baby. So, to check if your baby is having those allergic reactions, particularly against peanuts you will have to serve peanuts in a limited quantity and give at least 3 hours gap before giving any other food.

The doctor can diagnose the allergic reaction through a skin test. A small amount of peanut will be placed on the skin to confirm peanut allergy. For a detailed diagnosis, the doctor can suggest a blood test to check the amount of immunoglobulin E antibodies in the blood. Skin prick tests may also be suggested to confirm if your baby is allergic to peanuts

[Read : Skin Prick Allergy Test in Children]

How to Treat Peanut Allergy in Babies?

After you get confirmed that your baby is having a severe peanut allergy then you will strictly have to dismiss peanuts and all food containing peanuts from your baby’s diet, such as:

  • Peanut butter and any other nut butter
  • Cakes, cookies and chocolates containing nuts for older babies
  • Cereals and granola with added nuts

It is good to have an epinephrine auto injection at home. You can immediately press the syringe on the thigh of the baby if any severe allergic reaction occurs. For mild infection, a limited dose of Benadryl will also work. Your pediatrician will be able to guide you on what to do in case of allergic reactions. Strictly follow their advice.

In case of mild reactions, you can take the chance to provide peanuts to the baby for desensitization. This is oral immunotherapy. It can sometimes reduce the risk of developing a severe reaction or anaphylaxis against peanuts.

Top 4 Tips to Prevent Peanut Allergies in Babies

Preventing Peanut Allergies in Babies

Prevention is better than cure. So you must try to prevent any reasons causing allergy to your baby. Some preventive measures you can take against peanut allergies are:

1. Check the Food Label

Before you buy any new food item make sure it is peanut free. In the United States, under the Food Labelling and Customer Protection Act 2004, peanut is one of the eight allergens that need to be mentioned in food labelling.

2. Avoid Ice Cream and Desserts From Local Shops

They use the same spoons to serve different flavours. Cross-contamination can easily occur. Instead buy ice cream tubs from the Supermarket after checking that it is peanut free for older babies.

4. Ask to Make Nut Free Dishes at Restaurants

While ordering food at restaurants make sure no nuts are used in their preparations of the foods that you are ordering or carry your baby’s food separately when visiting restaurants and traveling.

5. Involve Caregivers

Make sure everyone around your baby knows that your baby has a peanut allergy. Close relatives, schoolteachers, and babysitters should know about the problem and how to look after your baby if allergic symptoms occur.

Peanut is a good source of plant protein and fiber. You should not avoid it from your baby’s diet just because it can supposedly cause allergies. Your baby may or may not have a peanut allergy. But as peanut protein can cause indigestion, give it in a limited quantity. And if your baby is having a severe allergy due to peanuts then only you should avoid this food completely. Take the advice of the pediatrician and follow all the preventive measures to avoid further allergies due to peanuts.

[Read : My Baby’s First Ice Cream]

FAQ’s

1. Who is at High-Risk For Peanut Allergy?

Infants and toddlers are prone to allergy as their immune system is still developing. With age as their digestive system matures, allergic reactions occur less.

2. Can Babies Overcome Peanut Allergy?

Different studies show that almost about 20 to 25 per cent of babies outgrow peanut allergies. And in 80 per cent of cases, it happens before the baby reaches 8 years of age.

3. How Do You Test For Peanut Allergies at Home For Babies?

By observing the symptoms you can ensure a peanut allergy. Otherwise, you can collect samples at home and send them for a test at the clinic. A blood test for immunoglobulin E is the most effective among allergic reaction tests.

Read Also: All About Wheat Allergy In Babies

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Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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