Nuts are one of the most common food allergies that exists in the world today. Nuts can either be a legume or a tree nut, although the primary legume that is included in this allergy is the peanut. The problem with this type of allergy is that it can be incredibly difficult to avoid contact with this food. Extracts, flavorings, and even the cross-processing of food can all create enough of a presence of the food to create an allergic reaction.
Facts About Nut Allergies
1. About 1 in 13 people in the United States has at least one food allergy that can lead to potentially fatal complications.
2. 3 million. That’s the number of people in the US who are believed to have an allergy to either peanuts or tree nuts.
3. 73%. That’s the percentage of Americans who eat peanuts or tree nuts on a regular basis.
4. The number of people who have a food allergy is growing, but there is no clear answer as to why.
5. More than 17 million Europeans have a food allergy.
6. Children who are born via a C-section are believed to be 5x more likely to develop a nut allergy or another food allergy.
7. One recent study showed that introduction of rice cereal before the age of 20 weeks of age, for example, increased allergic reactions, while introducing wheat, rye, oats or barley cereals at five months decreased allergic reactions to those grains.
8. Every 3 minutes, someone must seek out emergency medical services because of a food allergy.
9. Nuts are one of eight foods that account for 90% of all known food allergies in the world today.
10. Nut allergies typically develop in childhood and last for the remainder of life.
11. 9% of children who have developed a tree nut allergy will eventually outgrow it.
12. The percentage of the US population that has a peanut allergy: 1%.
13. There is a 1 in 5 chance that someone with a peanut allergy will outgrow it one day.
14. A severe reaction to a peanut allergy is the most common cause of food related death in the world today.
15. For a child born today, there is a 4% chance that they will have at least one food allergy.
16. From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years of age.
17. There is an average of 9,300 hospital discharges every year for children with the primary diagnosis being a food allergy.
18. A child with a nut allergy is up to 4x more likely to have another health related condition, such as asthma or other allergies that are not food related.
19. Children under the age of 5 are the most likely to have a food allergy.
20. Nut allergies affect all ethnic and racial demographics equally except for the Hispanic community. Hispanics are 25% less likely to develop a food allergy.
21. Women [4.1%] are slightly more likely to develop food allergies when compared to men [3.8%].
22. 29% of children with a nut allergy also report having asthma.
23. In Canada, 1.59% of children have an allergy to nuts, while 1% of Canadian adults are living with the allergy.
24. Sesame allergies are the least common food allergy in this category, accounting for 0.1% of cases in the US.
25. Up to 40% of people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts.
26. One-third of the people who have a peanut or tree nut allergy have severe reactions when exposed to the items.
27. 30.4% of food allergic children have multiple food allergies.
28. In 2007, children with reported food allergies had a higher rate of other allergies and respiratory conditions than children without food allergies.
29. The number of children who have reported one food allergy incident in the last 12 months: 4.1 million.
30. The estimated number of global deaths per year that occur because of peanut allergies: up to 200.
31. The number of deaths that the CDC has officially registered as a result of a food allergy between 1996-2006: 13.
32. After 44 weeks of incremental dose therapy to peanuts, those given the real peanut powder could increase their symptom-free consumption from 3.5 milligrams at the start of the study to 496 milligrams. By week 68, the tolerance levels averaged 996 milligrams.
33. 88% of schools in the US have a child that has at least one food allergy attending on a regular basis.
34. Families that are living at higher income levels also have a higher rate of food allergies. Among children with family income above 200% of the poverty level, food allergy prevalence was 5.4%. At 100% of the poverty level, food allergy prevalence was 4.4%.
35. A child with a nut allergy has a 27% increased chance of suffering from eczema.
36. Respiratory allergies are 31% more common in children who also have a nut allergy that is present.
37. The total number of hospital visits that occur every year because of a suspected food allergy: 75,000.
There are a number of scary stories on the internet today about nut allergies. Some people are so sensitive that the simple act of opening up a can of peanut butter in their presence can begin an allergic reaction. When a severe reaction occurs, the only available treatment is an injection of epinephrine, which is essentially adrenaline. Even when an EpiPen is present, however, treatment is still necessary.
Although food allergies are becoming more common and many of them do not have a cure at all, here’s some good news: the statistics show that nut allergies are not as common as other food allergies.
How Can Food Allergies Be Stopped?
Researchers aren’t 100% sure what is going on with the increased rates of food allergies in developed nations. Some believe that exposure to highly allergic foods as a child before the age of 1 can lead to a nut allergy developing. Others believe that the sheer number of foods that are eaten with multiple allergens eventually overwhelms the body’s systems. We are exposed to nuts more often than we think – even landscaping materials, like mulch and top soil, contain peanut byproducts in them.
The problem with nut allergies is that it is more likely to cause an anaphylactic shock than any other type of food allergy. There is also the issue that someone who is allergic to peanuts or legumes may not be allergic to tree nuts. Sometimes someone can eat one type of tree nut, but not another type. This lack of predictability can make it very difficult for parents to eliminate foods because there may be several allergens in just one food product.
Discovering the allergy and then eliminating it from the diet are the best ways to treat the condition since there is no cure for a nut allergy, but this can seem like an impossible task. For parents, reading every ingredient label thoroughly and realizing that some products that don’t specifically list nuts may still contain them is a daily requirement.
Something as simple as natural or artificial flavoring can contain nuts. Even a mortadella may contain tree nuts. Although labeling requirements mandate nuts be listed as a possible ingredient, never assume that this is true. If an ingredient is not known, then research it first to discover if it has nuts. That’s the best way to defeat this allergy.
Nuts Can Go By Many Different Names
Another leading problem with nut allergies, especially with peanuts, is the fact that there are many different “official” names that are used for the item. Peanuts might be called goobers, kernals, new nuts, nutmeat, arachis, peas, and even valencias. By recognizing where nuts are, it becomes possible to avoid those items effectively.
It is also important to remember that some of the most popular stories of nut allergies causing health problems have actually been faked. The kiss of death from a boyfriend who had eaten peanut butter proved not to be true. Many stories about opening a jar of peanut butter have been exaggerated. Doctors have even felt forced to smear peanut butter on children to prove to worried parents that a peanut allergy does not exist.
Nut allergies can be devastating and life changing, but they don’t have to be fatal when they occur. With proper dietary management and transparent communication of health needs, food exposures can be limited at home, at work, and at school. If you suspect a nut allergy, then speak with a local allergist about your suspicions. Be tested for allergies if necessary. In doing so, you may save your life or the life of your child.