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Navigating Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Peanut Allergies

Peanut Allergy Info

The prevalence of peanut allergies has doubled in the 5 years from 1997 to 2002,1 and is the most common cause of food-related death.2

A peanut allergy is distinct from a tree nut allergy. Peanuts are considered legumes (e.g., peas, soy, beans, lentils), whereas a nut is a hard shelled fruit of certain plants. A person with peanut allergies may not necessarily also be allergic to tree nuts, and vice versa.1  

BUT, the proteins in tree nuts are similar in structure to those in peanuts. For this reason, people who are allergic to peanuts can also be allergic to tree nuts. There is a 30 to 60% chance of a child with a peanut allergy to develop a tree nut allergy.3

peanut free

Tree nuts include:
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Filberts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts (pignolia nuts)
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

People with a tree nut allergy are seldom allergic to just one type of nut, and are therefore usually advised to avoid all tree nuts.1

If you suffer from a peanut allergy, strictly avoiding nuts, both peanuts and tree nuts, and food containing nuts is the only way to prevent a reaction. But, it is not always easy to avoid these foods since many unsuspecting products contain nuts.4

Always check the label ingredients before you use a product. Also, keep in mind that many prepared foods, including baked goods, candy, and ethnic foods, can be contaminated with peanuts if products containing peanuts are prepared in the same place or by the same manufacturer. Always be prepared for this possibility and the risk of a reaction.

Table 1 lists examples of peanut products, and foods that may contain them: 4

Table 1: Peanut products and foods that may contain them 4
Peanut Products Peanut-Containing Ingredients Nut-Containing Foods
Peanut butter

Peanut flour

Cold-pressed or
expressed peanut oil

Hydrolyzed plant protein

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein

Ground nuts

Mixed nuts

Chex mix®

Artificial nuts


African, Chinese, Thai,
and other ethnic dishes

Cookies, candy, pastries,
and other baked goods

Grain breads

Ice cream, frozen desserts

High-energy bars

Cereals and granola

Salad dressing


Tree nuts are sometimes used in lotions, suntan lotions and shampoos. Be sure to check labels of these products, as well as food labels.

Note: ATROVENT (ipratropium bromide) Inhalation Aerosol and COMBIVENT Inhalation Aerosol should not be used in patients who:

While peanuts share similar proteins with other legumes (such as soy,
peas, beans and lentils), most people with peanut allergy can eat other legumes. However, many studies show that approximately 5% of
peanut-allergic people may experience an allergic reaction when other legumes are eaten.6

If a person is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, there is a good chance he or she is allergic to sesame as well.7,8 In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Asthma, 70% of the patients allergic to sesame were also allergic to tree nuts, while 65%  of patients allergic to sesame were allergic to peanuts.8 In a separate study, Boston researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston found that kids who have had allergic reactions to tree nuts are nearly three times more likely to have allergic reactions to sesame seeds.9



Scott H. Sicherer, Anne Muñoz-Furlong, James H. Godbold, Hugh A. Sampson.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 12, 2010

US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up.


Allergy Facts and Figures", Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America


National Institutes of Health, NIAID Allergy Statistics

Food Allergy – Quick Facts.


Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals

Press Release.

7 Allergies.

Sesame Seed Allergy.


Stutius LM et al.

Characterizing the Relationship Between Peanut and Sesame Allergy in Children.

AAAA&I, Washington, DC, March 2009.