Monday, September 28, 2009

Nut Allergy News from Canada Prompts Questions about Accuracy of Current U.S. Stats

Recently I began subscribing to Allergic Living Magazine and they sent me their Summer 2009 issue. In it was a report about a 2008 statistical study that showed there are more nut allergies among Canadian children than children in the U.S. Read about it here. For example, 1.52 percent of Canadian children were found to be allergic to peanuts. A comparable study, performed in 2002 in the U.S. found that .83 children are allergic to peanuts. Tree nut allergy in Canada was also found to be about 120 percent higher for Canadian children, compared to .51 percent in the U.S.

The originators of the study caution that the differences may not be as they appear. The Canadian data was collected 6 years after the U.S. data. Also, in the U.S. data, peanut/tree nut allergy was found to have doubled in the 5 year period between 1997 and 2002. Having no more recent studies to view, we can only extrapolate that the incidence of peanut/tree nut allergy in U.S. children may have doubled--or more--from 2002 to 2007. I hope that the U.S. will get some more recent numbers for us, because among other things, the more kids found to have the allergy the more public policy can be affected. I get so many e-mails and posts from Canadian readers who express amazement that the U.S. does not have consistent policies regarding peanut allergies in schools, for example. Numbers help make a case for changes so I'd love to see some more recent data for peanut/tree nut allergy sufferers. Those of you attending FAAN Walks for a Cure or donating to this event, this is what some of your fundraising dollars should go to.

Allergic Living magazine is a great resource for anyone dealing with food allergies or celiac disease. And unlike Living Without Magazine, they don't include recipes that contain nuts or nut oils! Big bonus in my book--I can find those recipes in any mainstream magazine or newspaper! :)


Jenn Jilks said...

But did you read the original article?

"The data are not complete – they reflect about 90 per cent of the 9,000 individuals who took part in the telephone survey – but give a good indication of how many Canadians are affected by peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish and sesame allergies."

Plus, it was a PHONE SURVEY! How accurate is this? No actual testing.

In Canada, we have universal health care and kids get tested for free if referred by a doctor. In the US, this is not the case. In addition, the US stats were from 2002, the Canadian data from 2008. More kids, tested more times, with more sensitive tests. It fail to report if these were skin allergies, or more severe allergies in which skin contact or inhaling the peanut allergen provokes a reaction. There is a huge difference. My kids are allergic to cats, but we had a cat. They washed their hands if they touched it and they knew to protect themselves.

Jenny said...

Hi Jenn,

Yes, I did read the article in Allergic Living. I actually do read articles that I post about, believe it or not.

I'm not sure if you have any children affected by food allergies (you don't say), because if you did, you would know that cat allergies and life-threatening nut allergies are not the same thing.

The Allergic Living article I refer to talked about nut allergies as its main focus. The quality of U.S. health care (that's enough for a whole other blog) had nothing to do with my point that more updated testing for kids with nut allergies is needed in the U.S. You also pointed this out so we agree on that point.

I'm not sure what your point was, unless it was to try to imply that nut allergies are an overblown problem? (They're not.)I stand by my original post. Scary to think you're a school teacher (I checked you blogger bio)--what would you do with a nut-allergic child and their parents--not believe them and think you know everything because you kept a cat when your kids had cat allergies? (Thanks, alot, Mom.)

Unfortunately, you can't "tough out" a nut allergy.

Mariana said...

Hi Jenny,
my name is Marilena and I have moved to Canada from Brazil since march. In Brazil, we don't have many cases of nut allergies. Do you know why does Canada have more nut allergies than other countries like Brazil?

thank you,

Jenny said...

Hi Marilena,

No one is certain why there are more nut allergies in the West, but there is evidence now that points to nut allergies on steep increase in India, for example, so this is clearly a worldwide problem.

I'm guessing there are nut allergies in Brazil but that they are not as widely publicized.

Many theories exist about food allergies, but none have been proven. Experts still don't know what causes them or why they are occuring with more frequency.

If I get any news on this front, I will post it here.

Thanks for writing, Jenny

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,

I have a daughter who is 4 and has a severe peanut and tree nut allergy. I am currently trying to get our schools nut free. It is a very exhausting battle to fight. What breaks my heart is how little compasion some people have for these children who have to deal with such a difficult issue every day. If only everyone could experience having a small child with nut allergies for one day. :) Keep doing what your doing!!!