Peanut allergy

Allergy to peanuts is one of the most commonest allergies in children over 3 years old.

Because of the high incidence of nut and peanut allergy, in the UK it is advised that you do not give any child nuts including peanuts under the age of 5.

The peanut is part of the bean (Legume) family

The bean family includes peas, soybeans, beans, chickpeas, Lupins with which it may share cross allergies

Peanuts are increasingly used

  • Peanuts are increasingly added to our diet for their nutritional value and low cost, and are present in a large majority of products we consume daily.
  • On the other hand, peanuts improve the taste, quantity and texture of many foods.

Figures increasing steadily

  • The number of children affected by peanut allergy is steadily increasing.
  • The number of children allergic to peanuts has multiplied twofold over the past ten years.

Peanut allergy does not tend to disappear

  • The peanut allergy does not tend to disappear and persists into adulthood.
  • Approximately 20% of children eventually grow out of their allergy.

Presentation of peanut allergy

  • The peanut allergy presents with rhinitis, urticaria, atopic eczema, asthma, vomiting, abdominal pain, symptoms can be in isolation or in combination with others listed.
  • It can cause severe skin reactions, digestive but also anaphylactic shock.

Carry a card or wear a `MediAlert' bracelet indicating your peanut allergy

A child allergic to peanuts should carry a card or wear `MediAlert' bracelet stating they are allergic to peanuts.

Carry a prescribed pre-filled syringe of epinephrine

Children that have had severe allergic episodes to peanuts must always have corticosteroid drugs and a pre-filled syringe of epinephrine with them at all times. Teachers in schools and other carers of children may require training for administering epinephrine and spare syringes prescribed for children to have at school, nursery or second homes.

The diagnosis of peanut allergy

  • A doctor who specialises in allergy testing will make the diagnosis. Skin prick testing maybe performed and blood samples taken to check IgE levels to measure the antibodies responsible for peanut allergy.
  • These tests also allows the doctor to assess the degree and severity of peanut allergy

Foods that contain peanut

  • Peanuts
  • Groundnut oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Some margarine
  • Some sausages and pies.
  • Salads
  • Cream cheese with dried fruit, muesli with yoghurt, dairy products including cereals
  • Confectionary and preparations with the words "vegetable oil" or "fat" without further clarification, such as chips for example.
  • Bread made with special flours (specialty breads with seeds)
  • Breakfast cereals, cookies/biscuits, snacks.
  • Cereal Bars
  • Pastries, chocolates, pralines, ice cream, nougat, marzipan tart, chocolate bars with nuts.
  • Dried fruit and potatoes because of possible cross allergies to nuts: your specialist doctor will advice you on the safety of eating these things.
  • Soups
  • Beer
  • Cheese Crackers
  • Hamburgers
  • Supermarket - Ready prepared Meals
  • Nutty based icings on cakes.
  • Almonds and almond paste, some flavours ... INCOMPLETE LIST

Peanut is also found in some cosmetics

  • Peanuts and peanut oil are sometimes called `monkey nuts', Groundnuts or (groundnut oil) Arachis oil, and mixed nuts. It is therefore important to avoid product that has oil in it unless it is specified whether peanut oil, olive or sunflower oil.
  • Many cosmetics, some shampoo and some drugs contain peanuts.
  • Food for fish and birds may also contain it.
  • At a restaurant, do not hesitate to ask the chef about the oil they use, they will know what ingredients have been used in dishes and sauces, especially in ethnic restaurants, - as the most severe reactions occur in these circumstances.

Cross allergies with peanuts

  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Soy
  • Beans
  • Lupins (flowering plant)

Ask if your baker uses lupin flour to improve the flexibility of his bread and buns.

Treatment: the peanut-free diet

Treatment of peanut allergy is to avoid eating peanuts in all its forms.

A reassessment of the allergy should be routinely performed using skin tests and a blood test (searching for antibodies specific to peanuts)

For more information and forums on peanut allergy see links below.

MediAlert Bracelets and notification
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