The Nut Problem
Peanut and tree nut allergies are unique because the proteins from these nuts trigger a very aggressive immune system response and allergy rates have increased over time.
Only twenty years ago, peanuts and tree nuts were a ubiquitous part of everyday kid life. Since then, peanut and tree nut allergies are up over 400% and are the most prevalent and fastest-growing food allergy. Even worse, they are the most dangerous and among the least likely to be outgrown in adolescence.
Peanut and tree nut allergies make up about 38% of food allergies, making them the most prevalent, and the rate of growth has been and continues to be truly extraordinary. And unlike some other common food allergies, the vast majority of children with peanut and tree nut allergies will never outgrow their condition.
Each patient has their own unique sensitivity to nuts, with all patients susceptible to a life-threatening reaction called Anaphylaxis. Due to the unpredictable nature of allergic reactions, a certain patient’s reaction could manifest 999 times as an annoying but benign rash, that patient could still have an anaphylactic response on the next exposure.
The sheer number of people (and especially kids) with peanut and tree nut allergies coupled with the fact that encountering even a small amount of the allergen can cause a potentially severe reaction has caused families, schools, communities and institutions to rethink how they create a safe environment. This is particularly difficult because many foods (both staples and treats) that characterize childhood are particularly dangerous to those with nut allergies.