The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports this month on a study showing peanut allergies in American children have more than tripled over 11 years, from 1997 to 2008. Peanut allergies are one of the few allergies that children do not grow out of, and are also one of the most dangerous.
“Our research shows that more than 3 million Americans report peanut and or tree nut allergies, representing a significant health burden,” researcher Scott Sicherer, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City says in the news release. “The data also emphasize the importance of developing better prevention and treatment strategies.”
Its increase could be attributable to the “hygiene hypothesis” — the idea that less exposure to allergens and bacteria in childhood leave the immune system underdeveloped and vulnerable, the researchers speculated.
Or it could be the timing of when the food is introduced, or how the food is prepared, the researchers said. Roasted peanuts, for instance, have increased allergenicity because cooking changes the nature of the proteins in the nut.
This increase in allergic response is despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ original recommendation of delaying a child’s introduction to peanuts until the age of three, which was later rescinded in January 2008. They now recommend that solid foods not be introduced before four to six months of age, but that the timing of introducing common allergens (such as dairy, eggs, and nuts) is no longer believed to have an impact on a child’s later probability of developing allergic diseases. In fact, a study involving Jewish children in the United Kingdom and Israel found that the Israeli children who were exposed to peanuts frequently during infancy were 10 times LESS likely to develop a peanut allergy than their UK counterparts.
“The most obvious difference in the diet of infants in both populations occurs in the introduction of peanut. Israeli infants are introduced to peanut during early weaning and continue to eat peanut more frequently and in higher amounts than UK infants, who avoid peanut, as per Department of Health recommendations. The observed differences in Peanut Allergies between the UK and Israel are unlikely to be explained by genetic differences. Our findings raise the question of whether early and frequent ingestion of high-dose peanut protein during infancy might prevent the development of Peanut Allergies through tolerance induction. Paradoxically, past recommendations in the United States and current recommendations in the UK and Australia might be promoting the development of Peanut Allergies and could explain the continued increase in the prevalence of Peanut Allergies observed in these countries.”
Food allergies such as nut allergies are on the rise and have become a significant health burden. There are many alternative and holistic options for dealing with allergies such as a peanut allergy. Contact a BioVeda Health and Wellness Center near you to learn more.