Allergic reactions to nuts peak around Halloween and Easter
Written by Timothy Huzar on October 20, 2020 — Fact checked by Hannah Flynn, MS
New research identifies an increase in pediatric cases of anaphylaxis in response to peanuts and unknown nuts during Easter and Halloween.
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A new study concludes that Easter and Halloween are associated with an increase in cases of nut-related anaphylaxis — a type of severe allergic reaction.
The research, which features in the journal CMAJ, may help public awareness campaigns focus on particularly risky times of the year.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening allergic reaction. The most common reactions are to insect stings, latex, medications, and types of foods.
If a person is allergic to something, their immune system overreacts to a usually benign substance that the body mistakenly perceives as a threat. This reaction can cause a range of symptoms that are often localized to the affected area, such as itching, swelling, and sneezing.
If a person has a more severe allergic reaction, they may experience symptoms in more than one part of their body, and the risk linked to these symptoms increases.
Scientists have defined anaphylaxis as a severe allergic reaction that involves two or more organ systems or hypotension, which is abnormally low blood pressure.
A person may begin to experience the symptoms of anaphylaxis 5–30 minutes after coming into contact with the substance to which they are allergic.
These symptoms can include a red, itchy rash, swelling around the throat or on other parts of the body, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, and nausea and diarrhea.
A study looking at data from 2009–2010 suggested that 8% of children in the United States had a food allergy, the most common being a peanut allergy. Of the children with a food allergy, almost 39% had a history of severe reactions.
Allergies to tree nuts, which include walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios, are also among the most common food allergies.
Researchers have suggested that the prevalence of food allergies among young children is increasing. If parents or caregivers are aware of the allergy, protecting the child while they are at home relies on them being cautious about what the child eats.
However, the tradition of gift-giving, often in the form of candy, means that holiday seasons pose a particular challenge for parents and caregivers trying to control what their children eat.