Nut-Allergic Kids: Nut Mix-up Common
Youngsters Can't Tell One Nut from Another -- Even If Their Lives Depend on It
July 28, 2006 -- Kids mix up their nuts -- even kids with potentially
life-threatening nut allergies.
Kids age 4-19 are, on average, able to identify only three out of 11
different nuts, find Los Angeles Children's Hospital researcher Ronald M.
Ferdman, MD, and USC researcher Joseph A. Church.
Ferdman and Church invented the nut box. It's a clear plastic box with 12
nut samples -- peanuts in the shell, peanuts out of the shell, cashews, pecans,
mixed shelled and unshelled pistachios, hazelnuts, slivered almonds, Brazil
nuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and walnuts.
The researchers tested 100 children, 37 of whom had nut allergies. In
general, the youngest kids knew the fewest nuts. But older kids didn't do a
whole lot better.
Overall, nine out of 10 kids could identify peanuts in the shell. After
that, their nut IQ went downhill.
Only half the kids could identify peanuts out of the shell. Almost a third
of them could pick out pistachios. Brazil nuts stumped them all -- and only two
of the 100 kids knew a hazelnut (or filbert) when they saw it. Twenty-one of
the kids thought all the nuts were peanuts.
Kids with nut allergies did much worse. Only one in three kids with nut
allergies could identify out-of-the-shell peanuts.
"Many nut-allergic children lack the nut recognition skills that could
protect them from future reactions," Ferdman and Church conclude. "The
best strategy would incorporate actively teaching the affected child to
recognize nuts so that he or she will be protected in every environment
regardless of the skill of adult caretakers."
Even so, a lot of the allergic kids had a great strategy of their own.
Nearly three-fourths of the kids with nut allergies said they would not eat the
nut to which they were allergic -- and half of these kids said they avoided all
The study appears in the July issue of Annals of Allergy Asthma &