Chapter Peanut (Arachis hypogea) Allergens
In developed countries, peanut allergy affects about 0.4%–0.6% of children and 0.3%–0.7% of adults (Emmett et al. 1999, Sicherer et al. 1999) with increased prevalence (Sicherer et al.2003, Burks 2008). A cohort of children 4-5 years old (born between 1999 and 2000) from the United Kingdom have a rate of peanut allergy of 1.8% (Hourihane et al. 2007). There has been an increase in the observed incidence of peanut allergies in children over the recent years, which is thought to be the result of the growing popularity and use of peanut products by the population and the introduction of peanut products to children’s diets at an early age (Burks 2003). Exposure to the peanut allergen is not easy to control in a pediatric population (Yu et al. 2006). Peanuts are generally eaten as snacks, after roasting, and are frequently components of snack bars, chocolates, and breakfast cereals; they are also often found in the Oriental (Chinese or Indian) cuisine (Furlong et al. 2001, Pomés et al. 2003, 2004). Studies indicate that ca. 1.5 million Americans suffer from allergy to peanut and every year about 30,000 patients are hospitalized due to symptoms of anaphylactic shock, of which 150-200 cases turn out to be fatal (Sampson 2003). Allergic reaction to peanut can be immediate (anaphylactic shock) or may occur after several hours. In majority of cases, allergic reactions are observed after taking peanuts, though in some cases the reaction may be triggered by saliva (kissing, utensils) (Maloney
et al. 2006) or allergen inhaling (Kilanowski et al. 2006). It was proven that the main peanut allergen Ara h 1 is relatively easily cleaned from hands and tabletops with common cleaning agents and does not appear to be widely distributed in preschools or schools (Perry et al. 2004).