Understanding Your Child’s Nut Allergies

Basket of peanut cookies

Understanding Your Child’s Nut Allergies

Peanuts and tree nuts may be small, but they can sure cause big problems for people who are allergic to them! While some of the other common food allergies in children may be outgrown, peanut and tree nut allergies typically develop during childhood and are more likely to last into adulthood.

Peanuts vs. Tree Nuts

Peanuts and tree nuts are not actually related, though they are often lumped together when people refer to nut allergies. Tree nuts like walnuts, pecans and almonds grow on trees, but peanuts are not nuts at all—they are grown underground and are part of the legume family, along with beans, lentils and soybeans. People with peanut allergies do not necessarily need to avoid other legumes, but people who are allergic to one kind of tree nut should avoid all tree nuts, as they are more likely to be allergic to others.

While individuals who have a peanut allergy are 25 to 40 percent more likely to also have a tree nut allergy, people who have a tree nut allergy are no more likely to have a peanut allergy. It is still advised for those with a tree nut allergy to avoid peanuts and vice versa, however, because of the likelihood of cross contamination during manufacturing and processing.

Nut-Free Alternatives

Eating seeds such as sesame seeds or sunflower seeds should be safe for those with a tree nut or peanut allergy. Sunflower seed butter and soy butter are both good replacements for peanut butter and other nut butters. But as with all food allergies, it is important to always carefully read food labels, even with “safe” foods you routinely buy, as manufacturers can change their processing and ingredients at any time.  

Basket of cookies

Nut-Free Snack Recipes

If you do have peanut or tree nut allergies in your family, it’s always helpful to have good nut-free recipes on hand, particularly when it comes to snack foods. Here are some healthy, nut-free snack recipes to try:

For additional resources, visit the Kids With Food Allergies website, which includes buying guides and a powerful recipe search engine. And be sure to check out our Primrose Snacktivities videos, which all feature nut-free recipes.

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