I know many of you have been hearing these stories lately and a few people have Tweeted me to ask me for links.
Here is a link to a recent story stating that Peanut Allergy Cases Have Tripled in 10Years. The story highlights that peanut and tree nut allergies seem to be increasing by leaps and bounds--with peanut growing at a faster rate than other food allergies.
I've always suspected this just based on my FAAN's Kids Newsletter--nearly every child featured has peanut allergy and most with that have tree nut allergy, even if they have other food allergies those two are in there.
Of course no one knows why this is. I really think we need to find out.
Running concurrently with this story was one in the New York Times on Wednesday that stated food allergies are NOT as prevalent as has been believed.
I think several things are going on here. One: people are mistakenly believing they have food allergies and are not getting a proper diagnosis. They may have a food intolerance (lactose intolerance, celiac disease) or something else entirely. A severe food allergy has the potential to close an airway and cause violent vomiting, wheezing, swelling of the face, etc. It's important to know if you have a true food allergy, both for health and lifestyle reasons. Don't diagnosis yourself, please!
The other thing is that people are getting a positive reading on a blood test and then not reacting to a food. No one is quite sure why this is happening--medical experts are trying to figure out better tests.
Finally, with more awareness of food allergies, more people are getting accurate diagnosis. In other words, yes they have them.
The one thing I hear from folks dealing with food allergies--either they have them or their kids have them--is a sentiment I feel myself. And that's the following: If you're not affected by food allergies then why do you want to disprove them? It really makes our lives harder when this happens.
However, if people really don't have food allergies and claim that they do, that doesn't help us much either. I can't tell you how many times I've read about a restaurant worker or chef who watched an allergic person consume a supposedly allergenic food with no problem. They then have skepticism about anyone who comes in and says they have a food allergy.
As a parent who has witnessed my child have a very severe, life-threatening reaction and then subsequent milder reactions from a miniscule exposure to peanuts, I just want to protect my child. I know this thing is real.
Parents and food allergy folks: what's your take on this?