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Bamba: A Tale of a Peanut Allergy

03-07-2013 / By: Easy Life

Peanut allergies are one of the most popular food allergies among young children. Consequently, peanuts are fraught with controversy among those with young families.  Surprising new results on the prevalence of food allergies in children suggest that introducing highly allergenic foods to babies at a young age may play a role in preventing allergies in children as they get older.

A Journal of Allergy Clinical Immunology article reported that the rate of children with peanut allergies in the United Kingdom was 10 times greater than that of Israeli children. The 2008 study, which compared 5,000 children in both countries, found that while Israeli babies typically ate Bamba peanut snacks before the age of six months, babies in the United Kingdom had no exposure to peanut products until after their first birthday.

"The body has to be trained in the first year of life. We think there's a critical window probably around four to six months, when the child first starts to eat solids," explained Katie Allen, a professor and allergist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at Royal Children's Hospital in Australia.

Bamba is one of the most popular Israeli snack food. It is essentially a puffed corn doodle lightly coated in peanut powder.  Similar to Cheez Doodle snacks marketed by a variety of companies, Bamba easily melts in the mouth, making it a safer delivery system for peanut protein than thick, sticky peanut butter itself.

And although it comes in a brightly-colored, crinkly bag, Bamba surprisingly has a benign, nutrition value. This snack food very low in sugar, relatively low in sodium (5% of the daily value) and is vitamin and iron-fortified. Each 1 ounce serving has 160 calories, 4g of protein and 1g of sugar; it also has 4.5 mg of iron (25% of the daily value for adults, but 64% of the recommended intake for children aged 1-3 years and 45% of the recommended intake for kids aged 4-8).  The product is also Vitamin C fortified, which should help with the iron absorption.

Moreover, Bamba doesn’t contain any dairy ingredients therefore making it a vegan snack food. Another interesting fact about Bamba is that it’s gluten-free. But while some people point out that the incidence of peanut allergy in Israel is significantly lower than it is in the US, experts mention that the unscientific observation that Israeli babies and kids coincidentally also eat lots of  Bamba cannot be mistaken for proof that early introduction of peanut protein causes lower allergy risk.

However, if you or your pediatrician agrees to introduce your child to peanut butter but are concerned that your child may not be able to handle its texture, Bamba may be the best solution.

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