Peanut Allergy Pointers
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) estimates that approximately 2.2 million school-age children suffer from food allergies. Of these, peanut allergy is believed to be the leading cause of severe or life-threatening food-induced allergic reactions, causing an estimated 15,000 emergency room visits each year and nearly 100 deaths. Only about 20 percent of children with peanut allergy will outgrow their allergy, making this a condition that most will have to manage well into adulthood.
Managing a peanut food allergy requires a concerted effort between parents, caregivers, educators and your child’s allergist, who is the best qualified medical professional to confirm the diagnosis. Reactions can occur at anytime, so it is important that everyone involved in the care of a child knows how to avoid, recognize and manage an allergic reaction.
Step 1: Avoidance
Avoidance of peanut allergens by reading food labels is the first step in management. Here are a few good tips to remember to avoid accidental exposure to peanuts:
- Avoid foods that contain ingredients such as beer nuts; cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil; goobers; ground, mixed, monkey or artificial nuts; nut meat; nut pieces; peanut butter; or peanut flour
- Remember that certain ethnic foods such as Chinese, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, as well as many chocolate candies and baked goods are likely to include peanut as an ingredient
- Avoid foods that are made in facilities that process peanuts. For example, sunflower seeds are often produced on equipment shared with peanuts
- Many experts advise that tree nuts (almonds, pecans, etc.) should also be avoided due to risk of cross contamination
- Studies show that most peanut allergic individuals can safely eat peanut oil (other than cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil)
- When eating out, always make a server aware that your child has a peanut allergy and ask about possible hidden ingredients or food contaminants.
Reprinted with the permission of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. © 1996-2008 American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. All Rights Reserved.
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