Peanut Allergies Triple in Children

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Parents please be advised that the rate of peanut allergies as tripled since 1997, according to a recent study. The study reported that about 1.5% of children have peanut allergies, and about 2% have allergies to either peanuts or other kinds of nuts. So that’s one out of fifty kids are allergic to some kind of nut (walnuts, cashews, or peanuts, etc.), and about one child in every seventy-five has a specific peanut allergy.

School Administrators, teachers, those involved in children’s ministries, baseball coaches, and parents, need to be very sensitive to this.

The study was led by Scott Sicherer, MD, a pediatrician from the Jaffee Food Allergy Institute at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. According to the study more than three million Americans have these nut allergies.

But did they have a theory as to why the number of people with these allergies has more than tripled in the past fifteen years?

There are several ideas, but nothing is for sure. One thought is that because most of us live in fairly clean environments in our homes and neighborhoods (as opposed to living on farms) means that we are exposed to fewer things that would normally stimulate our immune systems and protect us from all sorts of problems. Another thought is that because our society is so quick to use medications whenever we feel sick that our immune systems have been weakened. But no one really knows the “why” for certain.

The study’s authors point out that this was a telephone survey of thousands of people, as opposed to a laboratory or clinical study where people were actually poked or tested, so they advise that there are some inherent problems with telephone surveys. But they still spoke with about 2,500 households representing about 7,000 people, so it was a pretty big sample group.

Again, parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, volunteers, administrators, and anyone else working with children, please be aware that there is a possibility that the child that you are about to offer that handful of nuts to is actually allergic to them. Please consider asking parents before offering kids snacks with nuts.

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