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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Nov;116(5):1087-93. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

The natural history of tree nut allergy.

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Department of Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.



Although 20% of children outgrow peanut allergy, the natural history of tree nut (TN) allergy has not been well studied.


The goals of the study were to estimate the proportion of children who outgrow TN allergy and examine predictors of outgrowing it.


Patients with TN allergy, defined as a history of reaction on ingestion and evidence of TN-specific IgE (TN-IgE) or positive TN-specific IgE level but no history of ingestion, were evaluated. If all current TN-IgE levels were less than 10 kilounits of antibody (kU(A))/L, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges were offered. Patients who had undergone open TN challenges as part of routine clinical care were also included.


Two hundred seventy-eight patients with TN allergy were identified. One hundred one (36%) had a history of acute reactions, 12 (12%) of whom had reactions to multiple TNs and 73 (63%) of whom had a history of moderate-to-severe reactions. Nine of 20 patients who had previously reacted to a TN passed challenges, so that 9 (8.9%; 95% CI, 4% to 16%) of 101 patients with a history of prior TN reactions outgrew TN allergy. Fourteen of 19 who had never ingested TNs but had detectable TN-specific IgE levels passed challenges. One hundred sixty-one did not meet the challenge criteria, and 78 met the criteria but declined challenges. Looking at specific TN-IgE cutoffs, 58% with TN-IgE levels of 5 kU(A)/L or less and 63% with TN-IgE levels of 2 kU(A)/L or less passed challenges.


Approximately 9% of patients outgrow TN allergy, including some who had prior severe reactions. Although ideal cutoffs for challenge cannot be firmly recommended on the basis of these data, patients aged 4 years or older with all TN-IgE levels of 5 kU(A)/L or less should be considered for challenge.

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