Many children are allergic to food. Peanuts and other nuts are the most common and most serious offenders and are least likely to be outgrown. Incidence of peanut allergy has doubled in last 10 years and 1% of preschool children have a peanut allergy. Patient with peanut allergy may have other allergies like asthma, eczema arid rhinitis.
It is believed that early exposure to food allergens increases the chance of developing food allergy The average American consumes 11 pounds of peanut products each year. 100% of children are exposed to peanut by their second birthday. Other sources of early age exposure to Peanut include breast milk, diaper rash ointment, baby massage oil and baby milk formulas, and the base ingredient of vitamin D.
Peanut is from legume family and the patient with a peanut allergy might be allergic to legume but most of them can consume other legumes, (peas, beam, soybeans, kidney beans. garbanzo beans, carob beans, clover, and lentils) with caution. Peanut allergic patient might also be allergic to tree nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnut, pecan, walnut) even though they are different family but they do cross react to peanut. Most experts advise patients who have been diagnosed with an allergy to specific tree nuts to avoid all tree nuts until tested negative by skin testing.
Symptoms of tree nuts and peanut allergy include itch, rash, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramp, facial swelling, wheeze, breathing difficulty, cyanosis and collapse or fainting.
Unlike other food allergies, peanut allergy is more often life threatening Anaphylaxis and airway obstruction is the cause of death in most cases. Peak age for a fatal reaction is during the teenage years and in the patient with asthma. A fatal reaction is most likely to occur away from the home.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment is prevention by strict avoidance of peanut and all the peanut products.
Highly sensitive individual have suffered a reaction from direct and indirect contact from contaminated cooking utensils, inhaling fumes during cocking and chocolate candies as they are frequently contaminated with nuts during processing.
Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, African, and Vietnamese dishes often contain peanuts, or are contaminated with peanuts during preparation of these types of meals. Additionally, foods sold in bakeries and ice cream shops are often in contact with peanuts. It is recommended that peanut-allergic individuals avoid these types of foods and restaurants.
Accidental Peanut Ingestion:
The reaction can be quickly reversed by an injection of adrenaline (Epipen / Twinjet). There would be no significant harm if this were given and not truly needed, but very serious complications could follow if the caretaker were not to give it.
The patient should be transport to the hospital immediately after using the: Epipen / Twinjet. 1/3 of patients may experience a near fatal reaction within 4 hrs; so more than one dose of Epipen / twinjet might be needed.
Some Hidden Sources of Peanuts:
Artificial nuts can be peanuts/tree nuts that have been deflavored and reflavored with a nut, such as peanuts, pecan or walnut. Mandelonas are peanuts soaked in almond flavoring. Arachis oil is peanut oil. Mortadella may contain pistachios. Tree nuts have been used in many foods including barbecue sauce, cereals, crackers, and ice cream. Many brands of sunflower seeds are produced on equipment shared with peanuts.
It is advised that peanut-allergic patients avoid chocolate candies unless they are absolutely certain there is no risk of cross contact during manufacturing procedures. Kick sacks, or hacky sacks, beanbags, and draft dodgers are sometimes filled with crushed nutshells.
Commonly Asked Questions:
Should someone with a tree nut allergy avoid coconut?
A coconut is the seed of a drupaceous fruit. Coconuts are not typically restricted in the diet of an individual allergic to tree nuts. Some people have reacted to coconut; therefore, discuss this with a doctor before introducing coconut to your diet.
Is nutmeg safe?
Nutmeg is obtained from the seeds of the tropical tree species Myristica fragrans. It is safe for an individual with a tree nut allergy. Some people have reacted to coconut; therefore, discuss this with a doctor before introducing coconut to your diet
Is peanut oil is safe?
Peanut oil, which is processed well, might be safe to use but minimally processed oil may cause reaction, so it is best to avoid it.
Can alternative nut butters (i.e., cashew nut butter) be substituted for peanut butter?
Many nut butters are produced on equipment used to process peanut butter, therefore making it somewhat of a risky alternative. Additionally, most experts recommend peanut-allergic patients avoid tree nuts as well.
For further information or food labeling contact:
- The Food Allergy Network
- 10400 Eaton Place, Suite 107
- Fairfax, VA 22030-2208
- Phone: 703-691-3179
- Fax: 703-691-2713
- World Wide Web: http://www.foodallergy.org