Can a peanut allergy be prevented?

Last Modified: 6/13/2022

peanut allergy

This post was written by Heather Willison, MSN, FNP-C, PPG – Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

An estimated 32 million Americans have food allergies. This number includes nearly 6 million school-aged children, which means that there are likely two children in each classroom with a food allergy. While a fatal food reaction is more likely to occur at home, greater than 15% of food reactions occur in the classroom. In fact, 20-25% of the time when epinephrine is administered in the school setting, the child is unaware that they even have a food allergy.  

It's believed that approximately 6 million Americans are allergic to peanuts. A landmark trial has shown evidence that early introduction of peanuts in infancy can reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy. This is a pretty big deal considering that anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, is a complication of peanut allergy.  


Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include difficulty breathing, throat swelling, a sudden drop in blood pressure, fainting and dizziness. Other signs of an allergic reaction to peanut may include oral itching or tingling, vomiting, diarrhea and/or hives.  

Risk factors

Infants who are allergic to egg or have eczema appear to be at greater risk for developing a peanut allergy. Any history of allergic disorder, such as hayfever or asthma, can significantly increase the potential for developing a peanut allergy down the road. A family history of food allergy also places a child in jeopardy.

Age itself can be a risk factor. Studies have indicated that food allergies are more common in children, especially toddlers and infants, due to the immature digestive system. The digestive system of younger children tends to be overreactive at times. As a child grows older and the digestive system matures, they may be less likely to react to a food that once caused an allergic reaction.  


To reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending early introduction of peanut in infancy (4-6 months of age). However, this should not be done without first discussing an infant's risk factors with a pediatrician or allergist. Once risk factors are determined, a course of action can be decided upon that both the caregiver and provider are comfortable with.

Testing for a peanut allergy may be necessary, and this can be done through a skin test completed by an allergist or by blood. Depending on the results of the testing, an at-home introduction of peanut or an in-office introduction of peanut may be recommended. It’s important to consider that prior to any introduction of a highly allergenic food it’s important that the infant be at least 4 months old and shows signs of being developmentally ready to eat the food.  

Please contact PPG – Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at 260-425-6070 if you are interested in exploring early peanut introduction for your infant. We would be happy to assist you with this journey and answer any questions.


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