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October 2020

Peanut Allergy 101 (for Parents)

There are no ifs, ands, or nuts about it: The number of peanut allergy cases is rising. In fact, current estimates show that nearly 2.5% of U.S. children may be allergic to peanuts. As a parent, it pays to be prepared—here’s what you should know, and how a new treatment can help.

Learn about prevention

Have you heard about using peanuts to prevent peanut allergies? It may sound nutty, but for high-risk infants, experts now recommend introducing peanut-containing foods as early as 4 to 6 months. In this case, high-risk refers to infants with eczema and/or egg allergies.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider when and where it’s best to start adding peanuts. Some children may need to try peanuts for the first time in a doctor’s office.

Spot the Signs

This little nut can cause big trouble for those who are allergic. A reaction to peanuts typically shows up within minutes and may include:

  • Swelling (tongue and/or lips)

  • Hives

  • Coughing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Stomach cramps

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Also, be on the lookout for anaphylaxis—an allergic reaction with symptoms such as:

  • Trouble breathing 

  • Throat swelling 

  • Blue lips

  • Pale skin

  • Fainting

  • Dizziness

Always call 911 immediately if your child shows signs of anaphylaxis. And contact a pediatrician or allergist if you think your child might have a food allergy. Skin and blood tests are available to help identify possible triggers.

What now?

If you do get the news that your son or daughter has a peanut allergy, remember that treatments are available. For mild symptoms (sneezing, itching, hives, or rash), a healthcare provider will provide antihistamines and steroid medicines. If your child has a severe allergy, the provider might prescribe an epinephrine pen.

New drug, new perks

Even when being extremely careful about avoiding peanuts, accidents do happen. That’s where Palforzia comes in. This new drug, recently approved by the FDA, is a powder made from peanuts. And when taken daily, it lowers the risk of having an accident cause an allergic reaction.

To be clear, Palforzia isn’t a cure—and children who take it still need to stay away from peanuts—but it can provide some much-needed peace of mind. If you’re interested in learning more, contact your child’s healthcare provider. He or she can figure out the best treatment for your little one, monitor dosage, and adjust as needed.

 

 

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rina Lazebnik, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2020
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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