Clinical update on peanut allergy.Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002; 88(4):350-61; quiz 361-2, 394AA
Peanut allergy is common, potentially severe, and there has been a recent surge in clinical investigation of this important food allergen.
To provide the reader with a clinically oriented update on peanut allergy.
English language articles were selected from PubMed searches (search terms: peanut allergy, food allergy, anaphylaxis) and selected abstracts with a bias toward recent (3 years) studies judged to have immediate, practical clinical implications.
Peanut allergy is an increasing problem in western diets that include this food. Both genetic and environmental factors influences the expression of this allergy. The at-risk subject is an atopic individual, with heightened risk for those with atopic dermatitis and/or other food allergies. The allergy is long-lived for most, may increase slightly in severity over time, but approximately 20% of young children will develop tolerance. Parameters that may identify the subset likely to achieve tolerance have been identified. Several large studies have determined laboratory parameters (skin tests, peanut-specific serum immunoglobulin E concentrations) with excellent predictive value (>95%) to diagnose current clinical reactivity or tolerance, although oral food challenges are necessary for a definitive diagnosis. Numerous practical lessons concerning management (avoidance, treatment, and prevention) have been identified.
Recent studies provide the clinician with an armament of improved diagnostic and treatment modalities for peanut allergy. Studies are underway that are likely to provide more definitive therapies in the near future.