Nut anaphylaxis risk increases among kids at Halloween and Easter

Nut anaphylaxis risk increases among kids at Halloween and Easter

There is a significant increase in the incidence of peanut and unknown nut anaphylaxis among children at Halloween and Easter, according to a new Canadian study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The study evaluated the average daily cases of anaphylaxis in children during six holidays compared to all the other days of the year.

For anaphylaxis triggered by peanuts, the study found an 85% increase in average daily cases at Halloween and a 60% increase at Easter. For anaphylaxis triggered by unknown nuts, there was a 70% increase in average daily cases at both Halloween and Easter compared with the rest of the year. No holiday-related increase was observed for anaphylaxis triggered by tree nuts.

“We didn’t see an increase in anaphylaxis at Christmas, Diwali, Chinese New Year, or Eid al-Adha,” observed lead researcher Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan (Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University). 

“This may be due to the fact that on Halloween and Easter, children often receive candies from people unaware of those children’s allergies, whereas the other holidays may involve more intimate celebrations with family and friends better attuned to the risk of allergen exposure.”

The researchers analyzed data from 1,390 patients visiting pediatric emergency departments in four Canadian provinces between 2011 and 2020, as part of AllerGen’s nationwide Cross-Canada Anaphylaxis REgistry (C-CARE) project, led by Dr. Ben-Shoshan.

“The big takeaway from this study is that educational tools are needed to better protect children with food allergies,” commented first-author Mélanie Leung, a medical student at McGill University, “and that new strategies are needed to highlight the risk of anaphylaxis, especially on holidays.”

Press Release