Peanut Allergies Striking Sooner
Despite Warnings, Kids Being Exposed to Peanuts at Earlier Age
Dec. 3, 2007 -- Children are developing potentially dangerous peanut allergies at a much younger age, according to a new
And that's not all: The study researchers found more parents are feeding
their children peanuts at an earlier age.
"This should be a wake-up call to all parents of young children,"
says researcher Wesley Burks, MD, chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at
Duke University Medical Center, in a news release. "Kids are being exposed
to peanuts and having allergic reactions much earlier than they did five or 10
About 1.8 million Americans are allergic to peanuts, and researchers say the
number of peanut allergies diagnosed in children has doubled in the last
decade. They say these results suggest earlier exposure to peanuts may be a
major factor behind that rapid increase.
"There's a valid reason to delay introduction to products containing
peanuts," says researcher Todd D. Green, MD, assistant professor of
pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, in the release. "When kids
are older, it can be easier to manage bad reactions. They can tell you right
away if their mouths feel funny. For that reason alone, it's worth delaying
exposing your child to a peanut product, especially if a child is at high
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents not give peanuts
to children until age 3 if there is a strong history of allergies in the
Peanut Allergies Showing Up Earlier
Researchers compared statistics on children diagnosed with peanut allergies
at a Duke University clinic between July 2000 and April 2006 with similar-age
children diagnosed between 1995 and 1997.
The results, published in Pediatrics, showed the average age of first
exposure to peanuts was 14 months in 2000-2006 compared with 22 months five to
10 years earlier.
The age of first peanut allergy reaction also decreased from about 24 months
in 1995-1997 to 18 months in 2000-2006. Many of the children with peanut
allergy also had other food allergies such as allergies to eggs, cow's milk,
nuts, fish, soy, wheat, and sesame seeds.
Researchers say as many as one-third of people with peanut allergies have
severe reactions that can be fatal.