Background: Accidental exposure to peanut has been reported to occur frequently. Total avoidance of peanut is difficult because of its widespread use, manufacturing and labeling errors, utensil contamination, and label misinterpretation.
Objective: Given the apparent increased awareness of peanut allergy by both consumers and food manufacturers, we aimed to determine the current frequency of accidental exposures occurring in peanut allergic children in Quebec and to identify factors associated with exposure.
Methods: The parents of children with peanut allergy diagnosed at the Montreal Children's Hospital completed questionnaires about accidental exposure to peanut occurring over the period of the preceding year. Logistic regression was used to identify associated factors.
Results: Of 252 children, 62% were boys, with a mean age of 8.1 years (SD, 2.9). The mean age at diagnosis was 2.0 years (SD, 2.1). Thirty-five accidental exposures occurred in 29 children over a period of 244 patient-years, yielding an annual incidence rate of 14.3% (95% CI, 10.0% to 19.9%). Fifteen reactions were mild, 16 moderate, and 4 severe. Of 20 reactions that were moderate to severe, only 4 received epinephrine. Eighty percent of children attended schools prohibiting peanut, and only 1 accidental exposure occurred at school. No associated factors were identified.
Conclusion: Accidental exposure to peanut occurs at a lower frequency than previously reported, but most reactions are managed inappropriately.
Clinical implications: Enhanced awareness, access to safer environments, and good food manufacturing practices may have contributed to a lower incidence of inadvertent peanut exposure, but a further reduction and better education on allergy management are desirable.