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The World in Medicine
April 9, 2003

Peanut Allergy Illuminated

JAMA. 2003;289(14):1774. doi:10.1001/jama.289.14.1774-a

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%) children.