About 0.6% of Americans are allergic to peanuts, and prevalence is thought to be increasing, although no one knows exactly why, said Peanut Institute program director Pat Kearney.
Interestingly, peanut allergies are much less common in Asia and Africa where peanuts are staple foods, while peanut-based Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) has been given to newborns and infants in multiple countries without causing allergic reactions.
One possible explanation is the hygiene hypothesis - which suggests that modern medical practices such as immunizations and a more sanitary environment have weakened our immune systems - while others argue that efforts to reduce infants’ exposure to peanuts have increased, rather than decreased, children's chances of developing an allergy.
In the meantime, the most effective way to deal with peanut allergy is to ensure that people with allergies actually carry their medication around with them, with one recent study (click here) on 271 children with peanut allergy living in Quebec showing that almost 50% did not routinely carry EpiPens with them.
A number of therapeutic strategies to reduce or eliminate peanut allergy are currently being studied. Among these are Chinese herbal medicine, anti-IgE therapy, oral immunotherapy, and vaccine strategies that utilize genes from peanut proteins.