Peanut allergies are one of the most common forms of food allergy among American children. And the last two decades have seen a dramatic rise in the number of cases. It’s estimated that today 2 percent of all children are allergic to peanuts, four times the number as recently as 1997. And it’s the leading cause of death from food allergies.
For parents, of course, a key question, how to avoid the risk to their children. And now comes a new twist. A study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine,” it finds that exposing higher-risk infants to peanut products greatly reduced the risk of developing an allergy later on.
I think that when the first two decades of the 21st century goes down into the annals of American history it will be know as the “Age of Fear”. They will describe it as a time when we let fear drive us to a higher degree than any time before (and hopefully since). Of course that probably started with 9/11. After all it was the first time that so many of our citizens were killed in a single day by someone from beyond our shores.
It seems kind of ironic that our fear that our children might be allergic to peanuts is the reason that so many of them are allergic to peanuts. I’m sure that I, like probably everyone in my generation, was given my first taste of peanut butter as an infant. And I’m pretty sure that I loved it and ate many PB&J sandwiches before I reached puberty.
Is it now impossible for parents to raise “free-range” kids? Must we protect them from every possible danger out there? I was a free-range kid. I often spent my days roaming the neighborhood seeing what kind of trouble I could get into. :) I can’t image kids being so sheltered today that they can’t do the same. It is ironic that what we fear from peanuts we may actually make happen because of our fear. That is kind of like those folks who refuse to get immunizations for their kids because they fear that it causes other problems.
Fear is a very powerful thing for many I guess.