If you have read around my blog, you know that I have talked about food allergies in the past, more specifically, my daughter’s milk allergy. When I was making out my editorial calendar for April and came across “P” for the challenge, I thought what better topic than peanut allergy?
Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy and one of the most common allergies to cause a fatal reaction, anaphylaxis, which is why it is advised that anyone who has a peanut allergy carry an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen). If a peanut allergy is suspected, strict avoidance to peanut and peanut products is essential.
Peanut are not the same as tree nuts. Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.) that grow on trees usually do not cause the same reactions that peanuts (which grow underground) do. Only about 25-40 percent of people who are allergic to peanuts are allergic to tree nuts.
Chances are that you know someone who has a peanut allergy or who has child that has a peanut allergy. Sometimes these individuals can come off as a pain because they are constantly asking if something has been in contact with peanuts or made in a plant with peanuts, but they are not trying to be a pain. During an anaphylactic reaction, it is hard to breathe, your throat tightens and it is a very scary feeling, so they are just trying to avoid that feeling. Sometimes, just eating a food that is made in a plant that processes peanuts or makes anything with peanut in it can cause a reaction.
Many parents are so worried about a peanut allergy in their children that they will avoid peanuts and peanut products for a long time, often a year or more. While it is a good idea to avoid peanuts themselves because they are a choking hazard, there is new evidence that suggests introducing potential allergens to kids at an earlier age can actually decrease the risk of an allergy developing.
If you want to know more about this research, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has put together a great pamphlet. For even more information on the new guidelines, visit the National Institute of Health.
Do you or anyone you know have a peanut allergy? When did you introduce your children to peanuts or other common allergens? Is your pediatrician aware of the new guidelines?
If you want to know what else I have talked about during the A to Z Challenge, visit my “A” post.