Charley, now aged eight, was born at a time that the medical consensus on peanut allergy was to delay introducing the food to infants deemed to be at high risk - such as those with severe eczema. Putting this recommendation into practice in a broad-based way, he added, has the biggest potential to significantly reduce the overall numbers of kids who develop peanut allergies.
The allergy tends to develop in childhood and persist through adulthood.
In 2014, a nursing student at Oakland University who was diagnosed with a severe form of nut allergy as a toddler, died after he was exposed to peanut butter when he visited a friend's house. Feed your baby peanuts, the National Institutes of Health said in new guidelines released Thursday.
In infants without eczema or any food allergies, parents should feel comfortable giving babies a taste of peanuts after they are accustomed to eating other solid foods, said Dr Sandra Hong, an allergy and immunology specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in OH who was not involved in the new guidelines.
Experts thought this could reduce the chances of developing an allergy.
"Allergy is a hard thing to pin down, but observational studies show that the rate of peanut allergy is at least three times higher now than it was a couple of decades ago", said Chan, who is also head of the Division of Allergy and Immunology in UBC's Department of Pediatrics. However, a recent study has been conducted that could provide guidelines to be followed to be applied to the infants in order to prevent growing up with the peanut allergy.
Dr. G. Daniel Brooks, an allergist at the Asthma and Allergy Center in Bellevue, said the implications of being able to reduce the number of people who have allergies are huge, particularly if the new guidelines can achieve the same reduction reported in the research on a broader basis.
"I tend to be cautious about where (food) challenges are done", he said. From there, the family can decide with their doctor whether to proceed with giving the child peanut products or to completely avoid them. "We can not cure peanut allergies once it's there, so if there's a chance to prevent it, it's like Benjamin Franklin said, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'".
"We understand now that consuming peanut by around six months of age educates specialized cells - regulatory gatekeepers - in the gut", Chan said.
Building tolerance means that a peanut-containing food should be consumed about three times a week, the report said. Parents can introduce them to peanut-based food products around 6 months of age.
"With the NIH coming out with these guidelines, we can feel more confident talking with parents", she said. "We introduce peanut-containing foods early, the immune system can get used to it".
Each guideline focuses on infants showing varying degrees of general allergic reactions and when to expose them to peanuts, respectively.
The March workshop will involve allergy experts, paediatricians, GPs, nurses, parents and pharmacists working out how to safely introduce high-risk infants to peanuts. Based on test results, introduce peanut-containing foods at 4 to 6 months.
"A lot of these families don't want peanuts in the house".