The Most Common Food Allergy

An allergy to peanuts is the most common food allergy among children and adults. This food allergy can be mild, moderate, severe, or incredibly life threatening. A peanut food allergy that is severe can lead to anaphylactic shock that can result in death from heart failure and obstruction of the upper or lower airway. This can happen within minutes or hours after eating peanuts with this food allergy.

Currently, there is no treatment to prevent or cure a food allergy to peanuts. The only way to combat this food allergy is complete avoidance of peanuts and peanut oil, however, food allergy experts at Duke University are hopeful that there will be an immunotherapy treatment available for this food allergy within the next five years. This would be used to treat a persons immunological response to peanuts. A food allergy to peanuts is becoming more common in children, affecting about 1% of all children in total. The number of people who suffer from this food allergy doubled in the five years between 1997 and 2002.

A peanut food allergy is the most common kind of fatal food allergy reaction, and 54% of fatal food allergy reactions that were reported in the United States from 2001 2006 resulted from the ingestion of peanuts. Just this year in 2008, some of the deaths from this food allergy included an 8 year old who came in contact with peanuts in his home, a 66 year old woman who died of a severe food allergy to peanuts, a 30 year old man who died after eating a peanut butter sandwich in jail, and a 30 year old man who died after eating a cookie that had peanut butter in it at a party.

In July of 2007, in the efforts to help those who suffer from this food allergy, a scientist in North Carolina had developed a process to make allergen free peanuts. Initial testing showed a 100% inactivation of the peanut allergens, and human serums that were taken from people with this food allergy showed no reaction at all when exposed to these peanuts. Food companies are interested in licensing the process, and hopefully in the near future, people who suffer from this common food allergy will be able to eat allergen free peanuts without the fear of anaphylaxis.

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About The Author, Kelly Renaul
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