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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Dec;112(6):1223-8.

Prevalence of peanut allergy in primary-school children in Montreal, Canada.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, McGill University Health Care Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Peanut allergy is receiving increasing attention. Only one study has estimated the prevalence in North America, but it did not corroborate history with diagnostic testing.


We estimated the prevalence of peanut allergy in Montreal by administering questionnaires regarding peanut ingestion to children in kindergarten through grade 3 in randomly selected schools.


Respondents were stratified as follows: (1). peanut tolerant, (2). never-rarely ingest peanut, (3). convincing history of peanut allergy, and (4). uncertain history of peanut allergy. Groups 2, 3, and 4 underwent peanut skin prick tests (SPTs), and if the responses were positive in groups 2 or 4, measurement of peanut-specific IgE were undertaken. Children in group 3 with a positive SPT response were considered allergic to peanut without further testing. Children in groups 2 and 4 with peanut-specific IgE levels of less than 15 kU/L underwent oral peanut challenges.


Of the 7768 children surveyed, 4339 responded, 94.6% in group 1. The prevalence of peanut allergy was 1.50% (95% CI, 1.16%-1.92%). When multiple imputation was used to incorporate data on those responding to the questionnaire but withdrawing before testing, the estimated prevalence increased to 1.76% (95% CI, 1.38%-2.21%). When data regarding the peanut allergy status of nonresponders (as declared to the school before the study) were also incorporated, the estimated prevalence was 1.34% (95% CI, 1.08%-1.64%).


Our prevalence study is the first in North America to corroborate history with confirmatory testing and the largest worldwide to incorporate these techniques. We have shown that, even with conservative assumptions, prevalence exceeds 1.0%.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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