This research project aims to examine the basis for the apparent difference in allergic reaction to peanuts and nuts between young children and adults.
The aim of this three-year project was to establish whether there is a difference in allergic reactions to peanuts and other nuts between adults and young children, and if so, to determine the reason for this.
<p>A detailed clinical study was carried out in a large number of individuals (1200, age ranging from infants to adults) who had been referred to an allergy clinic because they reacted to one or more of five nuts studied, including peanuts.
<p>Information on the allergy status of each patient was obtained, including which nut they had been exposed to, which nut they reacted to, the age at which symptoms first appeared, and how severe the symptoms were for the different nuts. Laboratory tests were also carried out to find out how each patient's immune system reacted to different nuts.
<p>The researchers found that children developed allergic reactions to peanut first, usually before the age of 2. From the age of 2 onwards they go on to develop allergic reactions to other nuts as they were exposed to them, and by 10-15 years old, most of those seen reacted to more than one nut. Children had milder reaction than adults did.
<p>The researchers have developed a management plan for reducing further allergic reactions in nut allergy sufferers. They have also recommended that those who are allergic to one type of nut should avoid ingestion of others, and that children with nut allergy should be assessed periodically for the development of multiple allergies.
Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.