December 02, 2014
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Prevalence of peanut allergy, sensitization differed by age in children

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Peanut allergy prevalence remained consistent from early childhood, while peanut-induced allergic sensitization significantly peaked during adolescence, according to study results.

Researchers in the United Kingdom studied 1,456 children in the Isle of Wight birth cohort for incidence, persistence and remission to determine the natural history of peanut-induced allergic sensitization (PAS) and peanut allergy (PA). Questionnaires completed at ages 1, 2, 4, 10 and 18 years determined allergic symptoms, including peanut-induced reactions.

All participants aged 4, 10 and 18 years and those with allergic symptoms at 1 and 2 years had skin prick tests (SPT) to 14 aeroallergens and food allergens, including peanut. Allergic sensitization was classified by a mean wheal diameter of 3 mm larger than that evoked by the negative control to an allergen on SPT.

PAS rose gradually during the participants’ first 10 years, then increased more sharply at ages 10 to 18 years. Thirteen of 976 children (1.3%; 95% CI, 0.8%-2.3%) experienced PAS at age 4 years, which increased to 19 of 1,034 children (1.8%; 95% CI, 1.2%-2.9%) at age 10 years, and 54 of 851 children (6.4%; 95% CI, 4.9%-8.2%) at age 18 years.

“The most common pattern of peanut sensitization was its development for the first time at 18 years in 42 (63.6%; 95% CI, 51.6%-74.2%) of 66 children in association with grass pollen sensitivity and allergic rhinitis,” the researchers wrote.

Overall prevalence of PA had minor change beyond early childhood (approximately 0.6%). Although new onset of PA was not common in children aged 10 years (one of six), it was more pronounced among those aged 18 years (three of six).

“The numbers with PA in our study were small, and therefore these findings should be interpreted with caution,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: The researchers report receiving research support from NIH.