Peanut allergy: a growing phenomenon. 2003

Peanut allergy is one of the most serious of the immediate hypersensitivity reactions to foods in terms of persistence and severity and appears to be a growing problem (1). The prevalence of food hypersensitivity in adults is reportedly less common, but a recent survey in the US found that 1.3% of adults are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts (2). Recently, in a cohort of American children referred for the evaluation of atopic dermatitis, the prevalence of allergic reactivity to peanuts was nearly twice as high as that in a similar group evaluated a decade earlier (3). In spite of increased recognition and understanding of food allergies, food is the single most common cause of anaphylaxis seen in hospital emergency departments (4), accounting for about one-third of anaphylaxis cases seen. It is estimated that about 30,000 food-induced anaphylactic events are seen in American emergency departments each year, 200 of which are fatal (5). Either peanuts or tree nuts cause more than 80% of these reactions.

Due to the persistence of the reaction and the lack of effective treatment, peanut-specific immunotherapy is currently being examined as a treatment option. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms is vital to ensure the eventual, effective treatment of peanut-allergic patients.

Link To:

Burks W. Peanut allergy: a growing phenomenon. J Clin Invest 2003;111: 950 – 952.

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