Peanut Allergy...The Shocking Facts

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of deaths from food allergy.

Allergy to peanuts affects 1.3% of the general population. Peanut allergy affects 7 percent of brothers and sisters of persons with the allergy. (British Medical Journal 1996;313:518-521.)

Facts About Peanut Allergy

Peanut Allergy Prevalence

  • Peanut and tree nut (pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.) allergy can be a serious condition that affects approximately three million Americans, or 1.1 percent of the population.
  • Peanuts are the leading cause of severe food allergic reactions, followed by shellfish, fish, tree nuts and eggs. (Food Allergy Network)

Peanut Allergy Characteristics

  • Peanut allergy can be characterized by more severe symptoms, such as gastrointestinal, skin and respiratory symptoms, than other food allergies and by a high rate of symptoms on minimal contact. ("Clinical characteristics of peanut allergy," Clin. Exp. Allergy, 1997; "An evaluation of the sensitivity of subjects with peanut allergy to very low doses of peanut protein," J. Allergy Clin. Immunol., 1997)

  • Severe sufferers also may experience potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock in response to ingestion of peanuts. Anaphylactic shock is an allergic reaction in which the release of histamine causes swelling, difficulty in breathing, heart failure, circulatory collapse, and sometimes death.
  • As many as one-third of peanut-sensitive patients have severe reactions, such as fatal and near-fatal anaphylaxis. ("Anaphylactic deaths in asthmatic patients," Allergy Proc., 1989)

  • Avoidance of peanuts is very difficult because peanuts are commonly used as an adulterant in the preparation of foods. (Allergic reaction to inadvertent peanut contact in a child," Allergy Asthma Proc., 1997)