Peanut Allergy Incidents Waning, But Still a Problem

Canadian study shows more education is needed

MONDAY, June 19, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The number of people with peanut allergy unwittingly eating peanut-laced products is going down, but more public education is still needed.

So concluded a team of researchers at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, who conducted a study to determine if peanut-allergy reactions had been reduced.

Reporting their findings online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the researchers studied 252 Canadian children, ages 4-17, with diagnosed peanut allergies. The subjects answered a series of survey questions, including questions about any recent incidences of accidental peanut ingestion.

Of the 252 children studied, 29 said they had accidentally consumed peanuts a total of 35 times over 244 patient years. That translates to a little more than a 14 percent incidence rate per year -- a big drop from the 50 percent incidence rate published in the same journal in 1989, and a 55 percent rate found in a British study published in 2005.

Twelve of the 35 allergic reactions occurred when a food was clearly marked as containing peanuts, while 22 occurred when foods with undetected peanuts were consumed. Since Canada has very strict regulations on food labels and contents, and most schools are "peanut-free," the researchers were not surprised to learn that only one reaction happened while the child was at school.

Children and parents need better education on preventing these reactions by learning how to look for peanut content in foods, the researchers concluded. They also recommended stricter regulations on food manufacturers and food labeling.

More information

Visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has more information about peanut allergies.

SOURCES: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, June 15, 2006
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