Peanut allergy is common and can be a cause of severe, life-threatening reactions. It is rarely outgrown like other food allergies such as egg and milk. Measures aiming to reduce its prevalence via maternal avoidance during pregnancy and lactation, or delayed introduction into the diet, have failed to show any benefit. Peanut allergy has a significant effect on the quality of life of sufferers and their families due to dietary and social restrictions, but mainly stemming from fear of accidental peanut ingestion. The current management consists of strict avoidance, education and provision of emergency medication. Families find avoidance challenging as peanut is hidden in various food products. Despite the fact that food labelling has improved, with a legal obligation to declare certain food allergens (including nuts) in prepacked products, it still causes confusion and does not extend to cross-contamination. In an effort to address issues of safety at school, a lot of work has been undertaken to better care for peanut-allergic children in that environment. This includes training of school staff on how to recognise and treat allergic reactions promptly. Recent developments in the management of peanut allergy, such as immunotherapy, have shown some promise as an active form of treatment, but larger studies are required to further investigate safety and efficacy.
- Paediatric Practice