Doctors now say we’ve got to expose our beloved little peanuts to peanut proteins before they are 6 months old, even the ones who are allergy-prone.

These new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are a huge shift from the old recommendations to keep children — particularly those with eczema or egg allergies considered to be at high risk of peanut allergies — away from peanut products until they were at least 3 years old. Peanut avoidance for infants and toddlers had become an unquestioned mantra for most parents, but it turns out that avoidance mostly led to a massive increase in the peanut allergy, which can lead to anaphylactic shock and, in rare cases, death.

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Between 1999 and 2010, the prevalence of peanut allergies in the United States quadrupled, from less than 0.5 percent of kids to about 2 percent. A similar increase was seen in Britain. But scientists noticed that Israeli children eat a lot of products with peanuts, including a popular puffed corn and peanut treat called Bamba. Those kids were 10 times less likely to have peanut allergies than children of similar backgrounds in Britain. Researchers began a study that flipped the recommendations.

A trial in England showed that allergy-prone children who avoided peanuts from 4 to 11 months of age were six times more likely to develop the allergy by age 5 than allergy-prone kids introduced to peanut proteins. Even babies known to be sensitive to peanuts were 3.5 times less likely to develop a full-blown allergy if exposed carefully.

Doctors still warn that high-risk infants need to be exposed only with the supervision of a doctor. Toddlers shouldn’t be given peanuts themselves, which can be a choking risk. Studies need to continue, and there will always be a few people who are dangerously allergic to peanuts.

But it’s a relief to see a way out of this health problem, even if it’s a cautionary tale about a situation largely caused by overly careful official recommendations that instilled fear in parents.