By now, most people know that peanut allergies are a very real concern, especially among children. But parents and educators need to be aware that kids may react more severely to another potential allergen: cashew nuts.

A recent study in the journal Allergy (2007; 62 [8], 913-16) alerts parents, educators and consumers to this very real risk. Researchers studied 47 children who had experienced severe clinical reactions to peanuts or cashews. The cashews triggered worse allergic reactions than the peanuts. Although asthma tended to be more prevalent in the kids who ate peanuts, those who ate cashews had more wheezing and cardiovascular symptoms, and their reactions included extreme difficulty breathing and/or loss of consciousness. The cashew group was also more likely to require adrenaline injections to stop a reaction.

“Previous studies show [that] cashew nut can cause severe reactions; this is the first study to show by case-matching that severe clinical reactions occur more frequently in cashew [allergy] compared with peanut allergy,” the researchers concluded.