Aim: To describe parent-reported prevalence and management of peanut and nut allergy in school entrant children.
Method: A population-based, cross-sectional study in the Australian National Capital.
Results: Out of 3851 children, parents reported 127 had a strong allergic reaction to peanuts and 19 to other nuts ever. Nut allergy ever prevalence was 3.8% (95% confidence interval 3.2–4.4%), and of peanut allergy ever 3.3% (2.8–3.9%).
Children with nut allergy were more likely to have a general practitioner (odds ratio 2.64, 1.16–6.03), hay fever (3.78, 2.67–5.36), eczema (4.54, 3.15–6.56) and wheeze in the last 12 months (3.19, 2.22–4.59) and have been breastfed (2.68, 1.26–5.77) than those who did not.
At follow up of 109 children with parent-reported allergy (75% response), 70% had diagnostic test-confirmed sensitisation, 32% had been prescribed an adrenalin autoinjector (6% had used one) and 46% were not eating peanut. Increasing severity of reported symptoms following consumption of peanut was associated with an increasing likelihood of recommended management. Based on parent report, the projected estimated diagnostic test-confirmed prevalence of peanut sensitisation was 2.4% (1.9%, 3.0%) for the entire sample.
Conclusion: Among a highly representative sample of children at school entry, 1 in 30 parents reported their child to have a strong allergic reaction to nuts and over 1 in 50 are estimated to have diagnostic test-confirmed peanut sensitisation, based on parent report.