Allergies in Kids: Hold the Peanut Butter But Pets Are OK

More children in the US have food allergies than previously thought, says a new study from Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers found that 8 percent of children under 18 years of age, or about 5.9 million children in the US, have food allergies. 38.7 percent of these children had a history of severe reactions and 30.4 percent had multiple food allergies. Peanuts were the most common allergen (in 25.2 percent of the children — in one quarter of kids), followed by milk (21.1 percent) and shellfish (17.2 percent).

This means that 1 in 13 children have a food allergy and 2 out of 5 children have a severe food allergy, says lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Science Daily. He and other researchers surveyed nearly 40,000 US households with children; they had to answer a “battery of questions for a randomized child in their household, including present or past food allergy, date of onset, method of diagnosis, and reaction history for each reported allergen.”

As Dr. Gupta points out, for those children with severe food allergies, “accidental ingestion of an allergenic food may lead to difficulty breathing, a sharp drop in blood pressure, and even death.” I still remember the tragic death of a family friend’s teenage daughter who was allergic to nutes years ago. She was working in a hotel kitchen and ate a piece of cake that, unbeknownst to her, contained nuts; she had a severe allergic reaction and died. I still remember how I could’t believe that just eating something, and something that is fine for most people to eat, could cause someone to die.

It’s somewhat possible to influence whether or not children will develop allergies to cats and dogs. The New York Times cites a recent study in the Clinical & Experimental Allergy which found that exposing young children — infants — to cats and dogs seems to lead to a lesser likelihood of them developing allergies to such pets later in life.

Being exposed to cats and dogs in later life did not, though, have the same result.

So. Read those food labels to find out if hidden allergens might be in the foods you’re getting for your family or yourself — but don’t hesitate to get a four-footed friend even if you’ve a little one of your own on the way.


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Holy Lawrence
Holly Lawrence7 years ago

Peanut Butter prices are shooting sky high .. darnit!

Carole R.
Carole R7 years ago

So many allergies these days. Fifty years ago you rarely heard of a person with an allergy. I agree with Amanda M.. All the antibacteria stuff is killing off the good bacteria, that we actually need.

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

i thought the dairy was only bad because it was pasturized

martyn b.
M bassett7 years ago

It is said that DAIRY is the source of most food allergies.

Amanda M.
Amanda M7 years ago

You can also blame our attitudes towards cleanliness for the rise in allergies too. It's not just the big factories that throw in the sub-par peanuts (or the manky ones, as Marjaana V so aptly said), but also the attitude in modern society that equates "sterile" with "clean." With antibacterial everything from soap to house cleaners killing off the good bacteria that our immune systems chew on, our bodies will, and are, ending up cannibalizing themselves for lack of anything to fight off. The results: superbugs and food allergies.

We have only ourselves to blame.

Philip S.
Philip S7 years ago

Is it really a surprise what with all the toxins produced, GMO food, pesticides, pollution of various types, vinyl, unsafe overused vaccines, tainted baby formula, chemtrails, electromagnetic fields & radiation, etc. I’m surprised the rate is not much higher.

Marjaana V.
M Y7 years ago

as kath says, it maybe not the peanut we are to blame, but the poor quality of the processing. after all, mold is one of the biggest sensitizers going so if the peanuts mushed up into paste are manky, well, you get kids reacting to the additives and maybe not the peanuts themselves.

i have a true milk allergy, it makes me depressed and no i'm NOT kidding. most people are lactose intolerant, which isn't the same thing and means that they don't have the required enzyme to break down lactose.

add all the crap they pour into foods as "natural" flavours, preservatives, colour etc and what is it we're actually eating?

clara H.
Clara Hamill7 years ago

Hopefully they won't ban peanut butter with all these allergies. I love peanut butter.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams7 years ago

I was constipated and had iron deficiency anemia from first grade until I finally found out at age 38 that I am gluten intolerant. I suspect a lot of children with mild to moderate symptoms from allergies just don't know they have allergies.

Kath W.
Kath W7 years ago

Like Anita, I never, ever met or heard of anyone with a nut allergy when I was young. As the years went on, if anyone ever had a reaction, it was big news and you got an article in the newspaper on the main page. Seriously.