Special Diet Needs: Peanut Allergy

A peanut allergy involves the body’s immune system reacting to specific proteins found in peanuts. Approximately 1% of Americans have a peanut allergy, a larger percentage occurring in babies and young children. This number is steadily rising, causing concern among parents, schools and organizations that work with children. Some schools have taken it a step further by banning peanuts in school lunches. An existing allergy to other foods can also increase the chances of getting a peanut allergy. Compared to other types of food allergies, such as eggs or milk, allergies to peanuts rarely disappear over time. However, a scientific research concluded that children with low immunoglobulin levels for peanuts may outgrow their allergies.

Symptoms of a Peanut Allergy

Reactions to the proteins in peanuts can vary from mild to severe. A reaction can occur within minutes of exposure. This can be as minor as a skin rash or stomach ache. Major reactions include anaphylaxis shock, wherein the airways are blocked. Individuals with a peanut allergy need not eat whole peanuts to have a reaction. Cross contamination, inhalation of peanut particles or touching areas where peanuts were placed can have the same effect on the body as with eating peanuts.

Some Unexpected Sources of Peanut

Foods do not have to contain actual peanuts or tree nuts to cause a reaction. When it comes to food allergies, the slightest trace of the allergen can cause a reaction. Being manufactured in the same building as the offensive ingredient can result in cross contamination. Take this in mind when devising a peanut allergy diet. The following foods are some examples of foods that might have peanuts in them.

  • Sauces (i.e. dips, gravies and salad dressings)
  • Baked sweets
  • Chocolates and candies
  • Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Egg roll
  • Pet food
  • Pizzas
  • Meat alternatives and other vegetarian foods
  • Foods that use any type of peanut oil whether expressed, expelled or cold pressed
  • Marinades and food glazes
  • Ethic dishes from Asia, Africa or Mexico
  • Ice creams and yogurts
  • Nougat
  • Artificial nuts

Other Peanut Allergy Information

  • Nut and Peanut Allergy: This section from the Nemours’ KidsHealth website discusses the reasons why the body may react to nuts, types of reactions, diagnosis, treatment options, how to plan for emergencies and living with a peanut allergy.
  • Peanut Allergy in the School Environment: Myth and Facts: This article from the NetWellness website delves into the issues with handling peanut allergies in school. It explains the difficulties of establishing a peanut free environment, what schools have done so far and what parents can do to help.
  • The Peanut Institute: This website includes facts, a list of peanut products, recipes, news and research into peanut allergies. Check out the Peanut Allergy White Paper: which gives an in depth look into the condition, the numbers, severity, suggestions for managing the condition, existing research, resources and references.
  • Peanut Allergies Vary Between Different Cultures: A Study of Americans, Spanish and Swedish: The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology published a study on whether a race can influence the chances of having peanut allergies.
  • Food Allergies: Focus on Peanuts: This PDF file from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America explains what a peanut really is, symptoms of peanut allergies, possible causes, treatments and existing laws and regulations.
  • Budget-Conscious Healthy Eating Options: The Medifast Plan offers prepackaged meals to help ensure all our customers are making healthy eating decisions every day.
  • Peanut Allergies, Children and Pregnancy: The March of Dimes website features a fact sheet of useful information on peanut allergies and how it relates to pregnant women and children. It includes a list of foods that may contain peanuts, when it is safe to eat peanuts and foods containing peanuts, if exposures to other forms of peanuts can cause a reaction, how to diagnose and treat the allergy and links to other sources of information.
  • Early Clinical Predictors of Remission of Peanut Allergy in Children: This study published by The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology tests whether peanut allergy can be outgrown and in what cases.
  • Peanut Allergy: The Young Men’s Health website developed under the Children’s Hospital Boston includes general information on the condition, why it occurs, symptoms to look out for and treatment. It also features a list of ingredients containing peanuts that individuals should look out for.
  • Food Allergies in Children: Peanuts and Tree Nuts: The Palo Alto Medical Foundation website has devoted a section to providing information about peanut and tree nut allergies and what makes it different from other types of food allergies. Included in the link is a list of suggested practices for caring a child with peanut allergies.
  • Tree Nut Allergens: Peanuts are different from tree nuts but can garner the same reactions from people with allergies. The PDF file includes a list of consumable types of tree nuts, from the widely consumed types to exotic nuts.
  • When Peanuts are Poison: This online version of the Modern Drug Discovery Magazine looks into a real life case of a child with a peanut allergy. The article goes into explaining what a peanut allergy is and why some people have this type of allergy. It also features information on foods and ingredients to be careful about and how to manage the condition.
  • Guidelines, Recommendations on Peanut Allergy: The paper reviews the existence and frequency of occurrence, symptoms, diagnosis and proper management of this type of allergy.
  • Peanut Allergy: How Common is It and Why?: The PDF is an editorial on the prevalence and existing studies about peanut allergies.
  • Interesting Causes for Peanut Allergy Identified: A study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital revealed startling results on what may increase the chances of having food allergies.
  • DOT Airline Ruling Upsets Peanut Allergy Advocates: The Medill Reports website features a news article on the United States Department of Transportation lifting the ban on serving peanuts on flights, causing a furor amongst peanut allergy advocates
  • Eating Peanuts While Pregnant can Raise Child’s Allergy Risks: The United States Department of Health and Human Services released a news report indicating that consumption of peanuts during pregnancy may increase the chances of the infant developing peanut allergies.