Previously, experts advised people with tree nut allergies to avoid nuts altogether. But new findings presented at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) Congress 2017 suggest that doesn’t always have to be the case; furthermore, such recommendations can actually lead to the development of more nut allergies, reports Medscape.
For the multicenter study, called ProNut, British researchers studied 133 children from London, Geneva and Valencia, Spain, between 6 months and 16 years old who experienced allergic reactions to nuts. Participants had a 95 percent predictive value (a determination of probability) that they suffered from an allergy to 11 index seeds or nuts, including Brazil nut, macadamia, pecan and walnut. Scientists also checked to determine the rate of coexisting peanut, tree nut and sesame seed allergies.
In addition, researchers designed the study to assess the possibility of conducting multiple nut challenges, safeguards required to introduce harmless nuts into an individual’s diet, diagnoses of tree nuts and sesame seed allergies and kids’ quality of life after safe nuts were incorporated into their diet.
Findings showed that despite the difficulties they experienced, children with tree nut allergies could eat other nuts and seeds under proper supervision. Additionally, researchers found that peanut and walnut allergies, as well as sensitivities to cashew and pistachio, don’t always occur simultaneously. According to the study, while 2.8 percent of children allergic to pistachio were not allergic to cashew, 16.7 percent of those allergic to cashew were not allergic to pistachio. Scientists also noted that those allergic to pecan (6.1 percent) were not allergic to walnut, and those allergic to walnut (29.5 percent) could indulge in pecans without any problems.
“The thing I took most from the ProNut study is that we need to think about walnut allergy and how severe walnut allergy can be,” said Helen Brough, PhD, a consultant in pediatric allergy at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ National Health Service Foundation Hospital and the study’s lead author. “It’s not something that I was anticipating because often you get lower allergy testing to walnut, but actually they can have very severe allergic reactions. That was one of my on-the-shop-floor experiences, and for pecan also.”
Allergies to tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and cashews, are considered to be one of the most common food sensitivities in children and adults, and can cause difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, nausea and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can send the body into shock.
Scientists hope that this recent discovery will support a more favorable approach to stop nut allergies from developing: Introduce tree nuts into people’s diet early.
Click here to read how feeding peanuts to children can prevent an allergy to this particular nut.