Scary as it may sound to a parent, if you want to prevent a baby from developing a peanut allergy, you need to feed them peanut butter. But determining the right amount to feed to your child is understandably tricky. That’s where Hello, Peanut! comes in. As its playful name suggests, the product hopes to introduce younguns to peanuts by doling out the proper amounts. And it’s the first-ever product of its kind to have its health claim ⏤ linking early peanut introduction to allergy prevention ⏤ given a thumbs up by the FDA.
Peanut allergies have been on the rise for two decades and cases of kids suffering from them have more than doubled since 1997. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), about two percent of children in the U.S. now suffer from peanut allergies. Which, if you’re a parent, probably seems pretty low considering how many peanut-averse kids you’re likely to know.
Introducing peanut products to kids at an early age is the best way to avoid allergies; that was the finding of a 2015 clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Health. That trial concluded that by giving smooth peanut butter to babies as young as four-months old, parents could reduce their risk of allergy by up to 80 percent. Based on those results, the NIH issued new guidelines in January recommending high-risk kids be introduced to peanut products as early as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics agreed. And last week the Food and Drug Administration signed on too, approving the aforementioned health claim petition from the company that makes Hello, Peanut!, Assured Bites.
Hello, Peanut! is a new one-week system that introduces infants as young as five-month-old to peanuts. The $25 introduction kit comes with seven packets ⏤ one labeled for each day of the week ⏤ that contain sprouted oat flakes and an increasing amount of organic peanut powder. Assuming the infant hasn’t already tried peanuts at the baseball game, or is already highly allergic, the idea is to mix the packets in with everyday foods (warm or cold) they already suck down. There’s also an included maintenance packet that should be fed to the baby a week later. The company recommends continuing maintenance packets ($20 for eight) “up to three times weekly, until your baby can eat peanuts in spread or whole form.” After that, your kid should be good to go.
“Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies and also one of the most dangerous, ” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D, in his announcement of the health claim approval, adding that the nut allergy is the leading cause of death related to food-related anaphylaxis in the U.S. That’s why his agency has likely been cautious about putting its stamp of approval on any type of prevention product. In fact, there are two levels of FDA approval with regard to health claims: qualified and authorized. Hello, Peanut!, it should be noted is qualified, which means that it’s only based on the one study. As a result, Assured Bites will need to slap a disclaimer on the label and recommend consultation with a doctor before proceeding.
Still, for parents looking for ways to prevent their babies from developing peanut allergies, the ruling is a huge vote of confidence. Hello, Peanut! is available for $25 on the company’s website.