What Is Peanut Allergy?
Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy in children under age 18 and the third-most common food allergy in adults. Peanut allergy is usually lifelong: only about 20 percent of children with peanut allergy outgrow it over time.¹
When a person with a peanut allergy is exposed to peanut, proteins in the peanut bind to specific IgE antibodies made by the person’s immune system. Subsequent exposure to peanut protein, typically by oral ingestion, triggers the person’s immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can be mild or very severe.
Allergy to peanut is the only food allergy for which a treatment has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Palforzia. There are other treatment protocols currently being used to improve an individual’s tolerance to the peanut protein, such as peanut oral immunotherapy, but these are non-FDA approved.
Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans and more), which grow on trees. (Though approximately 40% of children with tree nut allergies have an allergy to peanut.)² 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. However, allergy to lupine, another legume commonly used in vegan cooking, can occur in patients with peanut allergy.
Peanut allergies affect up to 2% of pediatric population, and many will carry this allergy into adulthood.³
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¹Natural history of peanut allergy and predictors of resolution in first four years of life. Population-based assessment. Peters, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2015;135(5):1257 Epub.
²Patterns of tree nut sensitization and allergy in the first 60 years of life in a population-based cohort. McWilliam V, et al.. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2019;143(2):644.
³Prevalence of peanut allergy in primary-school children in Montreal, Canada. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003;112(6):1223.
⁴US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11 year follow-up. Sicherer SH, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010;125(6):1322.
⁵A consensus approach to the primary prevention of food allergy through nutrition. Fleischer DM, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol2021;9:22.