What Causes Peanut Allergy?

Peanut allergies are one of the most widespread food allergies in the United States today, and nearly 3 million Americans are not able to consume peanuts because of allergic reactions [1]. Despite widespread allergies, peanuts account for almost two-thirds of all snacks consumed in the US.

While reactions range in severity, without treatment of epinephrine (or shot from an EpiPen), consuming peanuts can be life-threatening. Because of this, it’s important to read labels carefully, limit exposure to peanut ingredients, and educate yourself on potential causes.

There are numerous studies and working theories regarding peanut exposure and tolerance:

  • Genetic Factors: Some studies have shown that genes play an important role in people having an allergic reaction to peanuts. Nearly 20% of the peanut allergic participants in a study conducted in 2015 contained such genes.
  • Lack of Early Childhood Exposure: There is some research to suggest that children who did not have exposure to peanuts at a young age tend to develop allergic reactions to the groundnut. Although people can develop tolerance to food allergens as they grow older, few seem to outgrow a peanut allergy.
  • Use of Preservative in Peanut Snacks: Asthma is a common allergic reaction people face after consuming peanut butter. This may be caused by the frequent use of preservatives in these snacks.
  • Contaminated Soil: Other studies point to pesticides on crops for a more recent spike in peanut allergies among children. The USDA found that most peanuts contain traces of up to eight different types of pesticides.*Always consult your physician to develop a strategy for how to best prevent or treat food allergies.

Regardless of how peanut butter allergy develops, it can have serious and harmful consequences. Therefore, it’s always important to pay attention to common reactions such as coughing, stomach aches, diarrhea, red spots on the skin, or sudden drop in blood pressure. If you or a loved one exhibits any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention right away.