Peanut allergy study: More adults are allergic to peanuts than kids, Northwestern researchers say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Peanut allergies are commonly associated with children, but a new study shows that more adults are allergic to peanuts than kids.

Matt Bontorin, 28, lives with a peanut allergy. He's had a couple of bad reactions and it's something he will never forget.

"Waking up in the hospital in a bed because you've eaten a peanut, it's not a great feeling," he said.

Now, a new study shows just how widespread peanut allergies are among adults in the U.S. A study published Tuesday shows that there are more than 4.5 million adults who are allergic to peanuts. Of them, nearly a million developed the allergy once they reached adulthood.

"Even going over to a friend's house, it's something to be concerned with," Bontorin said.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta authored the study along with Dr. Christopher Warren as part of their work at the Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research at Northwestern University. They say peanut allergies are generally thought to be a condition in children, but their research finds more adults than children have the allergy. They say they hope their study prompts more adults who suspect they have an allergy to get a confirmation.

"What's so important here is to get to your doctor or an allergist and get a diagnosis," Dr. Gupta said.

There is no known reason why peanut allergies develop in adults. Researchers say those who self-diagnose are also potentially placing an unnecessary burden on themselves of avoiding peanuts when they don't have to.

"To rule out an allergy and to lift that burden of constant stress and anxiety about accidental ingestion, and stress about awkward conversations when you're out with friends, a lot of that can be avoided," Dr. Warren said.

Dr. Gupta, who's also a pediatrician, said new studies find early introduction of peanut products in babies up to 1 year old can prevent peanut allergies. She said she's hopeful for the day they go away altogether.
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