All About Peanut Allergy

in Basics, Food Allergy
Published: August 18, 2010

Not a Nut!

Often people think that peanuts are nuts, but in fact they come from the legume family. Other legumes include peas, beans and lentils. Because peanuts don’t belong to the tree nut family, it is quite possible for someone to be allergic to peanuts and not tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews and hazelnuts), and vice versa.

Risks With Nuts

Those who are allergic to peanuts are often advised not to eat tree nuts because of the risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process, with peanuts and nuts on the same equipment. If you have a peanut allergy, talk to your allergist about whether you should also be avoiding tree nuts.

While the peanut and the tree nut are not relatives, studies show that one-third to half of people with peanut allery also have a nut allergy.

Peanut-Free Schools

People often hear of schools being peanut-free, or having peanut “bans”. The reason there is concern over having peanuts or peanut products (such as peanut butter) in the school is because of the high rate of this allergy among children. Also, because reactions to peanuts are often severe (in the form of anaphylaxis) and peanuts and peanut butter can be oily or sticky and prone to residue being left on chairs, door knobs, etc., many parents, teachers and principals feel it is safer not to allow the product into the school.

Generally these rules are not designed to guarantee a peanut-free environment, but simply to reduce the risk that students in the school who have peanut allergy will come into contact with the allergen, potentially causing a life-threatening reaction.

Policies will vary depending on the allergies that students in any particular school or classroom have.

More on Schools and Allergies

Next Page: Why is Peanut Allergy on the Rise?

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