Research has found that it’s more likely a child will be exposed to peanut allergens at home than anywhere else, including school.
The study also found that allergen exposure at schools that have banned peanuts versus those that have not are not more or less likely.
The study, conducted in Canada, had several findings after following nearly 2,000 children diagnosed with peanut allergy:
- During three years of following the children, the study found that there were 567 exposures involving 429 children averaging about 7 years of age.
- About 11 percent of those exposures were classified as “severe,” and about half were “moderate.”
- Most of the exposures (37 percent) happened in the child’s home, and often parents and caregivers did not react appropriately.
Peanut-free schools not less likely to have accidental exposures
The study also concluded that schools which ban peanut products are not significantly less likely to have an allergic child be accidentally exposed to peanut allergens than are those which have no peanut product policy.
Less than 10 percent of the recorded allergic reactions happened at school or in a daycare. Nearly 5 percent of total exposures, making up half of those at schools and daycare facilities, were at institutions that ban peanut products.
Sabrine Cherkaoui of the University of Montreal, the study’s first author, said there are a couple of ways to interpret that finding. “Firstly, schools and day cares that allow peanuts may be doing a good job of controlling risk due to heightened awareness of the dangers,” she said. “Secondly, when peanuts are not allowed, the child may be lulled into a false sense of security, as peanut foods may inadvertently be brought in and shared with the child.”
Although the risk of accidental exposures declined during the course of the study (probably because the children and their parents developed better avoidance strategies), teens and adolescents were at greater risk than younger kids.
The study was published in the journal Clinical and Translational Allergy.