BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the wake of research that indicates the introduction of peanut products to infants can help prevent the development of peanut allergies later on, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has issued new clinical guidelines.

Clinical trial results reported in February 2015 showed that regular peanut consumption begun in infancy and continued until five years of age led to an 81 percent reduction in development of peanut allergy in infants deemed at high risk.

“Peanut allergy is a growing health problem for which no treatment or cure exists,” according to an NIH news release. “People living with peanut allergy, and their caregivers, must be vigilant about the foods they eat and the environments they enter to avoid allergic reactions, which can be severe and even life-threatening. The allergy tends to develop in childhood and persist through adulthood.”

The new addendum which will supplement the 2010 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, provide guidelines for infants at various levels of risk for developing a peanut allergy.

Addendum Guideline 1 focuses on infants deemed at high risk of developing peanut allergy because they already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both. The expert panel recommends that these infants have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets as early as 4 to 6 months.

Guideline 2 suggests that infants with mild or moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets around 6 months.

In all cases, infants should start other solid foods before they are introduced to peanut-containing foods.

“Living with peanut allergy requires constant vigilance. Preventing the development of peanut allergy will improve and save lives and lower health care costs,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “We expect that widespread implementation of these guidelines by health care providers will prevent the development of peanut allergy in many susceptible children and ultimately reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States.”

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