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Food Allergy Chronicles: The Peanut Problem

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The Peanut Problem – Why it’s more serious than we think.

ants on a log

Peanut allergies have increased by over 300% in the last 20 years. When you look at it as just that sentence it’s a great headline and instantly causes panic among parents of small children. If you were alive 20 years ago think about this – peanut butter and jelly was a lunchroom staple, ants on a log (peanut butter on celery with raisins on top) was a go to snack, and everyone loved the packages of crackers with the peanut butter in them. So now let’s ask ourselves – what has changed? Why has such an increase occurred? The current theory ….. we stopped giving kids peanuts.

If you were born before the early 90’s,  your parents most likely gave you peanut butter as a baby. In more recent years, the trend has been to not give a baby the same things babies were given for years and years and years – this trend has parents not giving babies things due to a fear of a reaction.

If you follow allergy news at all,  you may have noticed there has been a lot of recent research on the topic of early exposure and the research consistently supports the theory that the lack of exposure to peanuts is the cause of the immune response or reaction.

You may also have heard of the peanut patch which exposes an allergy suffering patient to small amounts of peanut in the hopes of building a tolerance and stopping future reactions. Now, of course, the theory of non-exposure doesn’t apply to every person with a peanut allergy but it certainly does explain the dramatic increase.

peanut-sign

Now it’s more serious than we think because we are well on our way to continuing this trend with not only peanuts but with other allergens as well. We constantly fall into media click bait and allow ourselves to succumb to panic. We are at a tipping point where the common thought is to basically remove all peanuts from the planet. Next we will want milk out of schools, then soy, then wheat, then tuna fish sandwiches. 

If we keep this trend up and the research continues to prove true, we are well on our way to having a country where everyone has a food allergy. Is that the best outcome? Is that what everyone wants?

*There are going to be people who say yes to the last two questions because they think then everyone will know what it’s like. Those people are the problem in the allergy community and if they are upset by this opinion, they should probably read a different blog.*

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