Previous studies have reported reactions to an increasing range of nuts as patients with nut allergy grow older. Most patients with symptoms suggesting nut allergy have specific IgE to more than one nut. Furthermore, fatal reactions have followed eating nuts different from any causing the deceased's previous reactions.
To explore the pattern of specific IgE to three distantly related nuts in patients of all ages with nut allergy.
This study includes all patients referred to our laboratory for nut allergy testing from January 1994 to August 1998 who were tested for peanut, hazelnut and brazil nut, and had specific IgE to at least one of these nuts. All tests were performed using the Pharmacia Unicap system.
Seven hundred and thirty-one patients (age 7 months to 65 years, median 6.6 years) had specific IgE > 0.35 kUA/L to at least one of these three nuts: 282 had IgE to one nut, 130 to two nuts, and 319 to all three nuts. When analysed by gender and age quartile, very similar patterns were found in all subgroups though significant age trends and age interactions were found for IgE to individual nuts and combinations of nuts.
The probability of a patient with nut allergy having specific IgE to a particular combination of peanut, hazelnut and brazil nut is similar, whatever their age or sex. The apparent increase in multiple nut reactivity with increasing age may therefore be due to exposure of previously unchallenged sensitivity. The frequency of multiple-nut specificity is sufficiently high that patients should always be tested for allergy to a range on nuts if they have a history of reacting to any nut.