To be given a peanut allergy diagnosis has often been considered especially serious, as in rare cases it can lead to an acute allergic shock and even death.
But a new global study led by the Swedish researcher Magnus Wickman at Sachsska children’s hospital in Stockholm has eased fears.
“Many people who have been told that they are allergic to peanuts and forced to adapt their lives around it are in fact able to cope with eating peanuts and products that contain peanuts,” he said to the newspaper.
At least one of the allergens contained in peanuts is similar to one in birch pollen, meaning that people with pollen allergies also react to tests for peanut allergies, even if they do not react to actual peanuts.
With the help of new, more sophisticated tests the researchers were able to conclude that more than two out of three people with a peanut allergy diagnosis in fact only reacted to the birch pollen allergen and had no or few symptoms from eating peanuts.
The results come from a study, called Bamse, that has been running for more than ten years. The study, conducted by Karolinska Institutet in Solna, has looked at 4,000 children in Stockholm born between 1994 and 1996.
Parents worried about their children can currently request two different tests from their healthcare provider. One is a skin test in the under arm and the other is a blood test.
“Neither of these methods differentiate however between the different allergens contained in, for example, peanuts,” Magnus Wikman told the newspaper.
The study has had some cooperation with a firm in Uppsala, Phadia, which manufactures the new tests that can differentiate between the various allergens, the newspaper writes.