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Study: Some children outgrow nut allergies

Nine percent of children allergic to tree nuts such as almonds and pecans eventually outgrow their allergy, even those who have had severe reactions, researchers said.
/ Source: Reuters

Nine percent of children allergic to tree nuts such as almonds and pecans eventually outgrow their allergy, even those who have had severe reactions, researchers said Wednesday.

And a blood test looking at a tree nut antibody provides a good indicator of when or if a child has lost the allergy, the team at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found.

“What’s crystal clear is that children with these allergies should be regularly re-evaluated,” the researchers wrote in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Allergic reactions to tree nuts as well as peanuts (which are not nuts but legumes) can be quite severe, and they are generally thought to be lifelong,” Dr. Robert Wood, who led the study, said in a statement.

“Our research shows that for some children, however, lifelong avoidance of these nuts, found in countless food products, may not be necessary.”

Wood and colleagues tested 278 children and young adults aged 3 to 21 years with a known allergy to tree nuts.

Nine percent could eat nuts with no reaction, including 58 percent of those with low levels of the tree nut antibody TN-IgE.

“These findings give allergists a safe guideline in deciding whether to advise their patients to continue avoiding tree nuts, or whether it’s time to try an oral food challenge to see if they’ve outgrown the allergy,” Wood said.

Such a challenge should only be made with an allergist present, he stressed.

An estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to tree nuts, to peanuts or both.