Nearly 10-percent of children younger than 4 years of age have food allergies and one of the most severe is caused by peanuts. But, a recent study indicates simply smelling peanuts or peanut butter likely won’t trigger an allergic reaction.
Doctor Michael Huckabee has been researching the issue at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “Studies have shown that most individuals, in fact 91-percent of individuals, actually reported that it was ingestion of the peanut butter that would create a reaction,” Huckabee says. “So, with that information, we feel somewhat reassured that the odor is not the problem, it’s the direct contact – by touching or ingesting – and that’s what causes the more severe reactions.”
A recent study had participants smell peanuts and no one suffered a reaction. “That smell was disguised by adding tuna fish and mint to the peanut itself, so it could not be smelled as peanuts. They allowed some children to be tested with a dish that had that mixture and those kids did not have reactions,” Huckabee explains.
The study, according to Huckabee, should ease the concerns of kids with peanut allergies and their parents that if they sit by someone in a lunch room who is eating a peanut butter sandwich – they should not suffer a reaction. However, Huckabee says there still is a concern when it comes to airborne peanut dust. “Even a pinch of peanuts, whether that be dust or powder, if it is airborne and breathed in, that would cause the same reaction as if it were ingested,” Huckabee says.
The reaction from those with peanut allergies can range from a rash to heart arrhythmias to death. Huckabee recommends people with a peanut allergy wear a medical alert bracelet and carry an EpiPen.