New to the world of peanut allergies - help, please!

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Hi - last week we found out that our 16 month-old daughter is peanut allergic. She had an anaphylactic reaction after being fed approx 1 tsp of freshly ground dry-roasted peanut butter.


Her reaction started with hives on the chin within 5-10 minutes, vomiting within 15 minutes, more vomiting at about 40 minutes, [a dose of Benadryl], then hives on the tummy and labored breathing at approx 60 minutes.

After the hives on the tummy appeared and her breathing became more wet, she received a dose of epinephrine, more Benadryl and steroids. She recovered almost immediately and had no rebounds after six hours of observation.

The next morning, she checked out fine at her pediatrician's office.

We had an appointment with an allergist who conducted a scratch test. She had a 4+ reaction to peanuts, no reaction to tree nuts. She has not had a blood/RAST test.

We are avoiding all nuts in her diet. Her daycare is peanut-free. We are avoiding "may contains" and shared equipment/facility language for peanuts only. (We permit these things for tree nuts.)

We carry an EpiPen Jr. and Benadryl at all times, and we have a medical action plan.

I am learning so much from this site and other Internet research, and while we're in touch with the allergist on my questions, I wanted to open up a question for the board generally to get a range of opinions and experiences.

How do you determine if an allergy is so severe that you need to avoid trace amounts (i.e. bakeries that use peanuts, "may contain" foods, shared equipment/facility foods)?

Before her reaction, we fed our daughter bites of everything and anything. We ate at restaurants, bakeries, self-serve yogurt places. Left no stone unturned. She never had any kind of reaction. But now, in an abundance of caution, we've eliminated bakeries and are being much more careful with restaurants.

However, I've seen individuals who say that they just can't *eat* nuts, but that they don't worry about trace amounts. How do you know if you're that person? Is it just trial and error? (Scary!)

Thank you so much for your advice!

By Freddy on Aug 10, 2012


You really have no way of knowing how severe your daughter's allergy is. You can't even totally rely on the blood test results.

My son tested very mildly allergic to peanuts at 14 months, right after he had a full blown anaphylactic reaction. His allergy was such that if he stood by a bowl of roasted peanuts, he would react.

When a product says 'made on shared equipment, may contain' etc., there is a 17% chance that there may be traces of peanuts in it (if I recall correctly).

I avoid anything that has a warning, but other parents with peanut allergic kids have different comfort zones.

Some products will have a warning, but are 'safe', some may actually contain. You need to do research and figure out which products are o.k.

You are very new at this, but you will find your own comfort zone on what is o.k. and what isn't. But, I would start with asking your allergist what they recommend. Honestly, it is pretty easy to find products that do not have any risk of peanut exposure. My son used to be allergic to all legumes, all nuts, sesame, fish, dairy, eggs and wheat. Now that we are just down to the peanut/nut allergy, life is a breeze.