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  • Kids Health Alert: Peanut Allergies

    Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947Like many other allergies, peanut allergies can range from mild to severe. In some cases, they are fatal. Food allergies like these can be particularly difficult for parents and caretakers to navigate since they are not always able to monitor what their child is eating or may encounter while at a friend’s house, school, playing sports or while engaging in other activities. Luckily, a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) explains what parents need to know about peanut allergies and examines the steps they can take to prevent children from developing a peanut allergy.

    Peanut Allergy Statistics and Testing Guidelines

    When a person is allergic to peanuts, it usually develops during their childhood and continues through their adult life. In the last two decades, people have been developing peanut allergies at a faster rate than ever before. Currently, 1% to 3% of people in the U.S. are affected, equaling approximately 6 million individuals. For reference, 0.4% of children were affected by peanut allergy in 1999. By 2010, the number had grown to 2%. Although researchers have not yet found a way to cure peanut allergies, they have found that giving peanut protein to infants at a very early age can prevent them from developing a problem in the future.

    It was only seven years ago that giving an early introduction to peanut protein became part of LEAP’s (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) recommendations for children at a specific age. LEAP previously recommended that children with severe eczema or an egg allergy undergo testing for a possible peanut allergy before being introduced to peanut protein; LEAP’s most recent recommendation, however, says even children with an egg allergy or severe eczema do not need to be tested first. The reasoning behind this is that not every egg allergy or case of severe eczema indicates a future peanut allergy.

    Even if children receive a positive result on testing for a possible peanut allergy, it does not mean that they will necessarily develop one. Therefore, a positive result sometimes causes undue stress and worry – and can lead to some children avoiding peanuts even though they do not need to. LEAP recommends that families with children with positive results introduce peanut protein at home or while monitored at a clinic. LEAP has the following recommendations for children without eczema and/or an egg allergy:

    • Introduce peanut protein in the form of peanut butter, peanut wafer, or other age-appropriate food, by around 6 months of age
    • Do not give young children whole nuts because they present a significant choking hazard
    • Once peanut protein is in the diet, parents should keep it in the child’s diet about three times per week to prevent an allergy from developing
    • For children with severe eczema or an egg allergy, discuss testing with your pediatrician if it is your preference to do so

    Signs and Symptoms of Peanut Allergy

    The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, says that children with a peanut allergy can experience symptoms in multiple areas of the body, including:

    • Skin: hives (red, blotchy skin that can itch) and may include mild to severe swelling
    • Lungs: difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
    • Eyes: itching, tearing or redness
    • Throat: tightness, trouble breathing or inhaling
    • Stomach: repeated vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and cramping, and/or diarrhea
    • Nose: congestion, copious clear discharge, sneezing or itching
    • Neurologic: change in behavior or mood, dizziness
    • Drop in blood pressure: this is the most dangerous symptom of a severe allergic reaction

    If your child experiences any of these symptoms after ingesting a peanut or a peanut protein, call your pediatrician and arrange to have your child tested by a pediatric allergist. If your child has any two symptoms involved from the list above, they may be experiencing anaphylaxis. If your child is showing symptoms of anaphylaxis, call 9-1-1 immediately.

    If you have a legal question or concern, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.

    Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947

    If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.

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