RIVM Report 340007002
50 pages | English | 2012
The symptoms of peanut allergy vary from mild to severe, from swollen lips, shortness of breath to an anaphylactic shock, which is potentially fatal. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has investigated which factors have an impact on the burden of disease for peanut allergy. The most important parameters were found to be the number of people who suffer from a peanut allergy and the impact it has on their quality of life. Burden of disease is a measure to quantify the consequences of a disease by combining the loss of health from impaired quality of life and premature mortality.
This systematic literature review was performed within the framework of the Foodborne Epidemiology Reference Group of the World Health Organisation that is dedicated to estimating the global burden of disease for several food borne diseases. Examples are pathogens, such as parasites and bacteria or toxic chemicals that are present in food as contaminants. Peanut allergy has been included in this initiative because of the severe symptoms that can occur.
Prevalence of peanut allergy: In Western countries, peanut allergy affects 0.5 to 1.5 per cent of the population. There is a lack of prevalence data from developing countries. Geographical differences in the prevalence appear to exist, since peanut allergy is uncommon in Turkey and Israel.
Peanut allergy limits quality of life: Symptoms of the allergy are only induced when people with a peanut allergy eat products that contain peanuts. Although they can be severe, the symptoms are usually short-lasting. Consequently, they will not have an impact on the burden of disease. The number of people who die due to a peanut allergy is low; this also has a limited impact on burden of disease. The quality of life of people with a peanut allergy is impaired, for example, because they are anxious about accidentally eating products that contain peanut. This impairment of quality of life is important in the burden of disease.