About 3 percent of children in developed countries are allergic to peanuts. And the allergy rate in the United States has tripled in less than 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although allergies to eggs and cow's milk are actually more common, peanut allergies are more likely to be life-threatening, and generally last a lifetime. For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) counseled pregnant women to stop eating peanuts, and told parents not to feed peanut products to infants when they begin taking in solid food. But all that has changed, thanks to a number of recent studies that found peanut allergies to be up to seven times less prevalent in kids who ate peanuts from an early age. One study found that kids who were introduced to peanuts in early childhood had an 80 percent lower risk of developing an allergy to them than kids who had never eaten peanut products.
This is nuts:
- The AAP now tells pregnant women not to specifically avoid any type of food. The advice for safely introducing peanuts to infants appears in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
- The alarming rise of peanut allergies in recent years has prompted schools, airlines, and food processing companies to ban peanuts, or any possible link to them.
- The recent studies support the hypothesis that the rise in allergies and autoimmune disorders is tied to today’s ultra-sterile environment, made possible by antibacterial soap and disinfectants.