Children with a peanut allergy may be most at risk for peanut exposure in their own home, according to a McGill University research study. Participating children had experienced allergic reactions to peanuts prior to joining the study. The research was set up to determine how exposure occurs, the severity and outcomes of the exposures, and the type of treatments used.
The findings of this research include:
- Of the 567 peanut exposures that occurred during the study, 11.3 percent involved severe reactions, and 50.1 percent were moderate reactions.
- Of the severe reactions, only 42 percent were seen by a medical professional, and nearly one in six received no medical attention.
- Of the moderate reactions, medical help was sought by only 25 percent of participants.
- Exposures occurred 37 percent of the time in the child’s own home, and 14.3 percent of the time in other people’s homes.
- Restaurants were involved in 9.3 percent of the exposures.
- Daycares and schools forbidding peanuts on campus accounted for 4.9 percent of exposure cases.
- Daycares and schools that allowed peanuts accounted for 3 percent of the exposures.
- Adolescents were at higher risk, likely because of their natural tendency for risk-taking behavior.
Researchers surmise that the lower incidence of exposure in schools allowing peanuts is related to two things. First, schools allowing peanuts might have heightened PA awareness and do an excellent job of controlling exposure risk. Second, in schools disallowing peanuts, allergic children may have a false sense of security and try unsafe food inadvertently brought into the school.
More About the Research
This study involved 1,941 children diagnosed with a peanut allergy. The 567 exposures happened to 429 of the children. The mean age of kids beginning the study was about 7 years, and children participated for nearly three years, on average.
Researchers found accidental exposures diminished as the study progressed, likely owed to parents and children developing increased awareness and improved peanut avoidance strategies.
“The most significant finding…is that most moderate and severe accidental exposures are managed inappropriately by caregivers and physicians. We believe that more education is required on the importance of strict allergen avoidance and the need for prompt and correct management of anaphylaxis,” said researcher Sabrine Cherkaoui.
McGill University is a leading medical-doctoral university in Canada.