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More People Are Allergic to Peanuts, Why?

August 23, 2017
Plain English Version

A new public enemy.

No one knows for sure how many people are allergic. Scientists only know that the number is growing at a rapid rate.

First, what is the name of the allergy? It is anaphylaxis. People who have it are anaphylactic.

You know when you have it. Sufferers have trouble breathing. It can be fatal if it is not treated right away. You must treat it with an injection of epinephrine. Then go right to the emergency room.

What is going on? An expert said more people are allergic and the allergies are becoming more severe. Peanuts are the most common cause of the allergy.

Tree nuts (such as walnuts), crustaceans (shell fish), and dairy products are other causes. Allergies to all kinds of foods are increasing.

Almost one out of ten children has a food allergy. Almost half of the allergies include severe reactions.

Scientists are looking at possible causes. One said the increase in allergies could be the result of the rise of C-sections in childbirth. Another said it might result from the rise in the use of antibiotics. Still, another said sterile environments might be the problem. (The kids are too clean!)

These activities alter the good bacteria in our intestinal tracts. Our immune systems turn on us.

Experts advised parents to avoid foods such as peanuts when children were babies. Now experts think that may be bad advice. This year experts changed their minds, particularly for babies who have eczema. They now say parents should introduce low levels of peanuts to these babies by six months of age.

Researchers have found that more people in rural areas have allergies. They are looking into why this is so.

Many people think children will grow out of their allergies. But a third of the allergy sufferers are over eighteen years of age.

There are stories about how easy it is to suffer an allergic reaction. A woman said her son started wheezing and coughing and could not breathe. She gave him epinephrine and went to the emergency room. She suspects the cause was something like peanuts on the conveyor belt at a supermarket.

Some people say that even the sight of an allergen such as peanuts can set off a reaction.

Source: The Wall Street Journal August 21, 2017

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