V. McWilliam, J. Koplin, C. Lodge, M. Tang, S. Dharmage, K. Allen, 2015. The prevalence of tree nut allergy: A systematic review. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 15(9):54. doi: 10.1007/s11882-015-0555-8.
Tree nuts are one of the most common foods causing acute allergic reactions and nearly all tree nuts have been associated with fatal allergic reactions. Despite their clinical importance, tree nut allergy epidemiology remains understudied and the prevalence of tree nut allergy in different regions of the world has not yet been well characterised. We aimed to systematically review the population prevalence of tree nut allergy in children and adults. We searched three electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE and PubMed) from January 1996 to December 2014. Eligible studies were categorised by age, region and method of assessment of tree nut allergy. Of the 36 studies identified most were in children (n = 24) and from Europe (n = 18), UK (n = 8) or USA (n = 5). Challenge-confirmed IgE-mediated tree nut allergy prevalence was less than 2 % (although only seven studies used this gold standard) while probable tree nut allergy prevalence ranged from 0.05 to 4.9 %. Prevalence estimates that included oral allergy syndrome (OAS) reactions to tree nut were significantly higher (8-11.4 %) and were predominantly from Europe. Prevalence of individual tree nut allergies varied significantly by region with hazelnut the most common tree nut allergy in Europe, walnut and cashew in the USA and Brazil nut, almond and walnut most commonly reported in the UK. Monitoring time trends of tree nut allergy prevalence (both overall and by individual nuts) as well as the prevalence of OAS should be considered given the context of the overall recent rise in IgE-mediated food allergy prevalence in the developed world.