Although the incidence of peanut allergies has been rising in recent
decades, the reason why was unclear. Now, new findings from scientists in
England indicate that children can become sensitized to peanut protein from
exposure to creams or lotions containing peanut oil (N Engl
J Med. 2003;348:977-985).
In the study, led by Gideon Lack, MB, BCh, of St Mary's Hospital in
London, the researchers examined the data from a longitudinal study of nearly
14 000 schoolchildren and identified 49 with a history of peanut allergy.
They found no evidence that prenatal exposure (from mothers eating peanut
products) played a role in the allergy. However, about 84% of the children
who were allergic to peanuts and 91% of those with a positive peanut-challenge
test result had been exposed to such creams during the first 6 months of life,
a significantly higher percentage than that of atopic (53%) and control (59%)
Stephenson J. Peanut Allergy Illuminated. JAMA. 2003;289(14):1774. doi:10.1001/jama.289.14.1774-a