Background: It is hypothesized that household exposure to allergenic proteins via an impaired skin barrier, such as atopic dermatitis, may contribute to the development of IgE sensitization. Household presence of peanut is a risk factor for the development of peanut allergy in children. Sunflower seed butter is a peanut-free alternative to peanut butter, and sunflower seed allergy is an uncommon but reported entity.
Case presentation: A 3 year old boy presented with oral discomfort that developed almost immediately after he ate sunflower seeds for the first time. He was given a dose of diphenhydramine. Subsequently he vomited, and his symptoms gradually resolved. A similar episode occurred to a commercial snack made with sunflower seed butter. Skin prick testing demonstrated a large positive (10 mm wheal) wheal-and-flare response to a slurry of fresh sunflower seed within 3-4 minutes associated with severe pruritus. This child has an older sibling with confirmed peanut allergy (PNA). After the PNA diagnosis was made, the family home became peanut-free. In lieu of peanut butter, sunflower butter was purchased and eaten frequently by family members, but not by the child reported herein. Subsequent to the episodes above, the child ate a bread roll with visible poppy seeds and developed itchy throat, dyspnea, and urticaria. Epicutaneous skin testing elicited a >10 mm wheal size within 3-4 minutes in response to a slurry of whole poppy seeds and 8 mm to fresh pumpkin seed, which had never been consumed.
Conclusions: A case of sunflower allergy in the context of household consumption of sunflower butter has not yet been reported. We suggest that homes which are intentionally peanut-safe may provide an environment whereby infants with impaired skin barrier are at increased risk of allergy to alternative "butter" products being used, via cutaneous exposure to these products preceding oral introduction to the child.
Keywords: Allergy; Risk factors; Sunflower seed.