Peanut-Allergic Kids Are More Likely to Be Exposed to Nuts at Home Than School

As the number of school-aged children with nut allergies continues to rise, so has the number of entirely peanut-free classrooms and schools.

However, new findings published in Clinical and Translational Allergy discovered that children who are allergic to peanuts are actually much more likely to be exposed to peanuts in their own home than at school.

Researchers at the University of Montreal followed 1,941 children of all ages who were already diagnosed with a peanut allergy. These children were examined for an average of 2.9 years and during the observational period 567 unintended exposures occurred in 429 of the participants.

Of the accidental exposures, 37 percent happened in the child's own home. Other people's homes (14.3 percent) and restaurants (9.3 percent) also accounted for a portion of the exposures.

The number of exposures that happened at schools or daycares, on the other hand, were much fewer: just 4.9 percent occurred at peanut-free facilities and 3 percent happened where peanuts are allowed. Researchers believe there was little difference between schools that prohibit peanuts and those that don't because schools that allow peanuts have an increased awareness of the issue. Furthermore, according to the study, "peanut-free policies may create a false sense of security and foods brought to such facilities may inadvertently contain peanuts and children who are allergic may believe that it is safe to share foods as they believe they are guaranteed to be peanut free."

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Food allergies in children have increased 50% since 1997 and roughly 25% of those affected experience their first reaction at school. This video from Nationwide Children's Hospital explains how a new law could save your child's life if she has a serious food allergy.

Image: Peanuts via Shutterstock

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