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Can Platelet Transfusions Trigger Severe Reaction in Those With Peanut Allergies?
Date:5/18/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- A boy with a peanut allergy had a severe reaction after receiving a blood platelet transfusion that may have contained bits of undigested peanut protein, according to a new case report published in a major medical journal.

Though the findings suggest that people with nut allergies may be susceptible to an allergic reaction from blood products, experts stressed there is no cause for alarm.

Not only does the report document only a single case, the boy received a platelet transfusion, which contain lots of blood serum (the liquid components of blood that don't contain red or white blood cells), explained Dr. Scott Sicherer, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on allergy and immunology.

That's different from a typical blood transfusion, in which the blood is "washed" and only red blood cells are transfused, said Sicherer, also a researcher at Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

"A blood transfusion would have a lot less of the liquid from the bloodstream, and that would presumably mean if there was any peanut in the blood it would have been washed away," Sicherer noted.

The case report was published in the May 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

After a person eats nuts, some of the proteins circulate in the blood, Sicherer said. That's led experts to speculate whether or not someone with a nut allergy who receive donated blood products could react to peanut proteins in the blood.

For people with severe peanut allergies, ingesting even tiny amounts of peanut protein can set off a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

But it's premature to encourage blood donors not to eat peanuts before giving blood or for questions about diet to become part of the screening process, said the report authors.

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