Children who are allergic to peanuts are more likely to be exposed to them at home than elsewhere, concludes a study from McGill University and the University of Montreal.
Food allergies increasing
Food allergies are increasing in Canada and one in every fifty children are allergic to peanuts. Some allergic reactions are so severe they can cause death. Some people must carry emergency medication to stave off the worst effects of such reactions.
Some schools and daycares ban peanuts in an effort to protect allergic children, but this study found little difference in accidental exposures between those that had a ban and those that didn’t. This could be because where there is a ban, children are lulled into a false sense of security and may not be on the lookout for food containing peanuts brought in inadvertently.
Lack of appropriate response found
The study found children were most at risk of encountering foods containing peanuts at home, rather than at school. But that wherever exposure occurred, parents and medical professionals often did not know how to react appropriately.
Adolescents were at high risk of exposure, something the researchers suspect has to do with teenagers’ predilection for risky behaviour.
The findings may help health officials devise policies to better protect those suffering from peanut allergies.