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Nuts: Snack Causes Problems for Some Kids

If your child is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, it's important that you teach him or her to ask about any treats offered at school or day care before eating it.

Allergic reactions to eating peanuts or nuts include vomiting, diarrhea, hives, eczema, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock.

Most experts recommend those with peanut allergy also avoid tree nuts, and vice versa, because of manufacturing cross-contamination.

If your child's doctor prescribes epinephrine for a severe allergic reaction, keep it near your child at all times. Parents of children allergic to nuts should also plan with their child’s school for emergency treatment should accidental ingestion occur. Parents should be proactive at eliminating the chance of ingestion in classrooms and cafeterias. Day care providers should also eliminate the possibility of accidental ingestion, and have materials for treating symptoms of a food allergy on hand, and be trained in the use of an autoinjector containing epinephrine.

A small minority of children who are allergic to peanuts will outgrow the allergy.

Peanut allergy tips

If your child has a peanut allergy, keep in mind these tips from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN):

  • An ingredient listed as "artificial nuts" on a food label may be peanuts that have had their flavoring removed and a nut flavor added.

  • Check all food labels carefully for peanuts. Talk to the manufacturer if you have questions.

  • Don't allow your child to eat chocolate candy unless you are certain that no cross-contamination occurred during the manufacturing process.

  • When you eat out, be aware that African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes often contain peanuts, or may be contaminated with peanuts when they are prepared.

  • Desserts from bakeries or ice cream stores may be contaminated with peanuts.

  • Sunflower seeds often are processed on equipment that also has processed peanuts.

Tree nut allergy tips

If your child has an allergy to tree nuts, keep in mind these tips from the FAAN:

  • Natural and artificial flavorings may contain tree nuts.

  • Tree nuts may be found in such varied foods as barbecue sauce, cereal, crackers and ice cream.

  • Some beanbags and other filled toys may contain crushed nut shells.