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Tree Nut Allergy

What Is Tree Nut Allergy?

Tree nut allergies are among the most common food allergies in both children and adults. The six tree nut allergies most commonly reported by children and adults are allergies to walnut, almond, hazelnut, pecan, cashew and pistachio. Most children who are allergic to one or more tree nuts do not outgrow their tree nut allergy.

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

In the U.S., plain language labeling on packaged foods is required for 18 different tree nuts. These tree nuts are not the same as peanut, which grows underground and is a legume related to beans and peas. Tree nuts are also different from seed allergens such as sesame, sunflower, poppy and mustard, which do not grow on trees.

Research shows that about 9 percent of children with a tree nut allergy 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.

Fleischer DM, Conover-Walker MK, Matsui EC, Wood RA. The Natural History of Tree Nut Allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005; 116(5), 1087-93.

https://www.fda.gov/industry/fda-basics-industry/section-201qq-act-defines-term-major-food-allergen-include-tree-nuts-addition-three-examples

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