A study published in the May 12 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, provides an alarming statistic:
...[a] research team surveyed 5,300 households in 2008 and discovered that 1.4% of children were thought to have peanut allergies, more than three times the 0.4% rate found when a similar tally was taken in 1997.
The study says the percentage of children with allergies to peanuts or tree nuts soared to 2.1% in 2008 from 0.6% in 1997, while remaining at 1.3% for adults. Read more at WebMD…
Parents to young kids with allergies live in a constant state of fear. Hearing that their numbers are growing is sad. What can explain this sharp rise in such a short time?
1. No real rise – There may not have been such a sharp rise, just a much higher awareness among parents to the possibility that their child may be allergic to something. Though some kids are so sensitive to peanuts that even a tiny amount can trigger a life threatening reaction, many milder reactions can include a runny nose, itching, or diarrhea. Some parents may misinterpret symptoms as an allergy when the real culprit is something else.
2. Hygiene theory – we are so clean these days – at home, at play. Antibiotics are everywhere. Everything is disinfected. Young bodies don’t get a chance to develop strong immune systems.
3. Peanut processing changes. Perhaps the roasting affects the nuts in some way. This seems illogical because peanuts have been roasted for years.
4. Genetic modification. In the UK in 1999, peanut allergies among kids shot up 50% in one year. It was the same year that genetically modified soy was introduced to the country. Soy and peanuts are legume cousins. Could this somehow be related?
What to do at the supermarket:
If your family is lucky to be part of the 98.6% who don’t suffer from peanut allergies, they are actually a great and healthy food for kids. The problem with many peanut butters is that they have added oil and sugar in heaps. Look for peanut butter containing just peanuts.