The changing trends: dealing with nut allergies
We usually use the term nut allergy defining allergies that occur towards fruits of unrelated plants like peanuts, seeds and nuts from the trees. Peanuts are related to chickpeas and peas whereas, nuts from trees include cashews, almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts. Seeds include sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and coconut.
Diagnosing an allergy can be difficult. If you think you or a child in your care might have an allergy, keeping a record of symptoms can help you and your doctor to understand what is causing them. Many food allergies do not cause severe symptoms, but they can be life threatening in some people and should be taken seriously. Mild allergic symptoms that can occur before a severe allergic reaction include:
· raised red bumps of skin – hives (urticaria)
· swelling of the lips
· tingling of the throat and mouth
· itchy skin and rash
· runny nose
· tightening of the throat
· digestive symptoms – cramps, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.
It is important to keep a track of occurrence of symptoms including time of the day when it occurs, location (inside or outside the house), the duration or time period for which it occurred, what all food was consumed just before the symptoms were noted.
Peanut allergy by far is the commonest of all. In the recent years there has been a huge increase in nut allergies especially to peanut allergies. Peanut allergies in the western world has just doubled in 10 years before 2014 and the number is still increasing. Not only western world but it has also become a growing problem in the Asian and African countries where formerly it has been uncommon. Indian doctors are witnessing a clear upward trend in food allergies and its severity. A recent study conducted in Mysore medical college on prevalence, cost and basis of food allergies, claims that the reason behind such rise of peanut allergies in India has been adoption of western diets and practices.
Shift in hypothesis: a new theory revolving around peanut allergy
There has been a great shift noted in the treatment trend and thinking about peanut allergy. Until now the parents were advised not to introduce peanuts in diets of children with allergy risk factor( like asthama, hay fever, eczema or dermatitis or a family member with food allergies) until 12 -36 months of age. However, the spat of new studies are reversing the dogma. Newer studies are of the hypothesis that delayed introduction of allergenic foods is not just unhelpful, rather it’s been observed that it increases the likelihood of occurrence of food allergy.
Researchers found that infants were 10 times more likely to develop peanut allergy, suggesting that early introduction of such foods starting with small amounts is actually helpful. Not only this, in a more recent research last year, it was observed that early introduction of peanuts in high risk children’s diets decreased food allergies by as much as 80%.
A new defining moment..
FDA approves Palforzia, on 31st January, 2020 as the first drug for peanut allergy, developed by a bio pharmaceutical company Aimmune therapeutics. . It is an oral immunotherapy indicated for the mitigation of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, that may occur with accidental exposure to peanut. Palforzia is to be used in conjunction with a peanut-avoidant diet. Palforzia is not indicated for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.
American Academy of allergy, Asthama & Immunology, Australasian society of clinical Immunology & allergy and World allergy organization recommend peanuts be introduced around 6 months of age for high-risk infants and to keep it as a regular part of their diet in order to maintain tolerance.