Allergic kids may not recognize problem nuts

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: November 14th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Managing a food allergy sounds simple. Just avoid eating the wrong things.

That strategy might work for adults, who have the experience to recognize dangerous items.

But what about children?

Can they tell what’s safe to eat?

That’s the question researchers explored in a study published recently in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The study focused on nuts, which are some of the most common food allergens and sometimes cause fatal reactions.

One-hundred children ranging from four to nineteen years old participated in the study. About one-third were allergic to at least one type of nut.

Researchers built a display box that contained twelve nut samples, including shelled and unshelled peanuts.

The children were asked to point out any peanuts they saw in the box. Afterward, they tried to identify all the samples.

Children with nut allergies were also asked to point out nuts they could not eat.

Overall, about sixty percent of participants failed to identify more than two samples correctly. Children with nut allergies didn’t perform any better than their nonallergic counterparts.

One-third of allergic children recognized the nuts they had to avoid. Another forty percent said they wouldn’t eat ANY of the nuts.

Researchers concluded that might actually be the best way to prevent allergic reactions, especially for younger kids.

Parents can’t be everywhere, so it’s simpler just to keep all nuts off the menu.

For the kids, this strategy offers a bonus… some tasty new treats to enjoy when they’re older and wiser.