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Are peanut allergies a concern for using peanut-based formulated foods in developing countries?

BACKGROUND: Peanut allergy is relatively common among children in developed countries and may have severe outcomes, including anaphylaxis. However, few data about peanut allergy in developing countries are available. Meanwhile, formulated foods with peanuts as a major ingredient are being promoted to prevent and control malnutrition in developing countries.

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of the paper are to review the existing epidemiologic data about peanut allergy, to determine whether the prevalence of peanut allergy is lower in developing countries, and to explore the possible reasons for onset of peanut allergy.

METHODS: Publications relevant to peanut allergy were searched via Pubmed, and prevalence and etiological factors of peanut allergy were reviewed.

RESULTS: Data about peanut allergy were scarce in most developing countries. The existing data support the conclusion that peanut allergy is not as common in developing countries as in developed countries and may not be a major concern for programs promoting formulated food containing peanuts for control of malnutrition. However, plans for treatment of individuals with peanut allergy could be incorporated into these formulated food supplementation programs. A few risk factors (late introduction of peanuts to children, peanut processing technology, non-oral peanut exposure, and maternal peanut exposure during pregnancy and lactation) have been hypothesized to be associated with peanut allergy. However, more conclusive data are needed to verify or disprove these hypotheses.

CONCLUSIONS: Peanut allergy is not as common in developing countries as in developed countries and may not be a major concern for programs promoting formulated food containing peanuts for control of malnutrition. However, more research about prevalence of peanut allergy is warranted in developing countries.

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