What you eat before you donate blood could cause an allergic reaction in the patient receiving a blood transfusion. The revelation comes after a 6-year-old boy suffered a severe allergic reaction following a blood transfusion because three of the five blood donors had consumed peanuts in the hours leading to their blood donation.

According to one of the study coauthors, Dr. Joannes Jacobs, three of the blood donors in this case reported eating peanuts on the evening before they gave blood. It had been Sunday evening, the evening of a soccer game, so the three donors had been snacking on peanuts as they watched TV.

The researchers say the boy experienced an allergic reaction because peanuts create a protein that stays in the blood for up to 24 hours. While such a scenario had been presented as a theoretical possibility in 2003, Dr. Jacobs says “This is the first clinical report of this.” Calling for more research into the issue, he said “We must analyze when this happens and how often it happens. We must create awareness that this phenomenon can take place.”

Dr. Dan Waxman, president of America’s Blood Centers, said that there needs to be a system in place to record such reactions. He suspects that food-allergy reactions caused by blood transfusions are rare, but does note the issue of patients who are allergic to penicillin receiving transfusions from someone who has taken the drug. “We’re really good about donor questionnaires about medication these days, or if someone’s taking an antibiotic,” says Dr. Waxman, “but in terms of what people might have eaten, we really don’t ask.”

The researchers involved with this study are not recommending any changes in blood donation practices, but are cautioning that more research must be done to determine the level of risk. They state that similar cases may have occurred in the past and gone unreported, making it difficult to assess how significant the problem may be.

This research was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read more about it here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/18/us-peanut-eating-blood-donors-…

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