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Don’t get shell shocked!

Peanut allergies are the most common food allergy among children today. Recent research suggests the roasting process has changed the body’s ability to recognize the proteins in the food and process them without an immune response.

Until science sorts it all out, MHP Allergy/Immunology Specialist Stanley Horner, DO, can offer assistance so you don’t get shell shocked!

Suffering from a peanut allergy is said to have a significantly negative impact on the allergic child as well as his or her family’s quality of life. The allergy has caused some children to avoid social situations, only eat at home and even be home schooled out of fear of exposure to peanuts.

According to Dr. Horner, there are some things parents can do to catch a peanut allergy early, possibly before it takes hold:

  • Reactions: If your baby has eczema or shows food sensitivity, early testing for a peanut allergy could be helpful. By testing around 5 to 10 months of age in children with other risk factors, it provides an opportunity to introduce peanuts early, before an allergy develops.
     
  • Recommendations: The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending starting exposure to peanuts much earlier, especially if other risk factors are present.
     
  • Siblings: If you have one child with food allergies, the chances of your other children developing additional food allergies are high. Consider early testing to possibly prevent the onset.

Children are usually diagnosed with a peanut allergy after having a reaction. An allergic reaction usually presents immediately or within 24 hours of ingesting a food. Symptoms can range from swelling in the face or lips; red, watery eyes; difficulty breathing or hives. If your child experiences these symptoms after ingesting peanuts, call their doctor immediately or go to the Emergency Room. Once the reaction has cleared, allergy testing can be completed and a treatment plan developed.

For a peanut allergy, the most common treatment is avoidance and the prescription of epinephrine pens in case of accidental exposure. Dr. Horner also counsels patients regarding desensitization, which involves ingesting small amounts of peanut in order to teach the body to tolerate the allergen.

As with all medical interventions, do not attempt to give peanuts to a small child or allergic child without the supervision of an allergy specialist. And until your child is tested and given the all clear, maybe avoid restaurants that use peanut shells as floor covering!

Published Jul 13, 2017

Lea Rice

Registered Dietitian Lea Rice provides inpatient and outpatient nutrition education, helping patients understand how their diet affects their overall health and well-being; including counseling patients with chronic health conditions. She is very involved in the community and enjoys sharing evidence-based nutrition information.

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