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Peanut Allergy

What Is Peanut Allergy?

Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in children under age 18 and the second-most common food allergy in adults. Allergy to peanut is the only food allergy for which a treatment has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Untreated peanut allergy is usually lifelong: only about 20 percent of children with peanut allergy outgrow it.

When a person with a peanut allergy is exposed to peanut, proteins in the peanut bind to IgE antibodies made by the person’s immune system. This triggers the person’s immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can be mild or very severe.

Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans and more), which grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are part of a different plant family, the legumes. Other examples of legumes include beans, peas, lentils and soybeans. Being allergic to peanuts does not mean you have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume.

Peanut allergies tend to be lifelong, although studies show that about 20 percent of children with peanut allergy do eventually outgrow their allergy.

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Gupta RS, Warren CM, Smith BM, Blumenstock JA, Jiang J, Davis MM, Nadeau KC. The Public Health Impact of Parent-Reported Childhood Food Allergies in the United States. Pediatrics 2018; 142(6):e20181235

Gupta RS, Warren CM, Smith BM, Jiang J, Blumenstock JA, Davis MM, Schleimer RP, Nadeau KC. Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults. JAMA Network Open 2019; 2(1):e185630.doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5630.

Skolnick HS, Conover-Walker MK, Barnes Koerner C, Sampson HA, Burks W, Wood RA. The Natural History of Peanut Allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001; 107(2), 367-74.

Sicherer SH. Clinical Implications of Cross-Reactive Food Allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2001; 108(6), 881-90.

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