Peanut Allergies Higher in Wealthy Kids

11/15/2012

121026802-mainFood allergies are more and more a part of a parent’s vocabulary and peanut allergies are among the scariest. They can be deadly and peanuts are a common ingredient in so many of the foods we eat. 

Researchers are looking at why some communities are more vulnerable to the allergy than others. High income families, for example, have higher rates of peanut allergies than others.

After looking at blood samples from 8,306 children and adults collected in 2005 and 2006, researchers found that nine percent had elevated antibodies to peanuts, indicating they were potentially allergic, according to LiveScience.

The research found that kids from families with an annual income of more than $75,000 were more likely to have peanut allergies. Allergies peaked when the children were in the 10 to 19-year-old range and then tapered off in middle age. Additionally, males and racial minorities were the largest groups with elevated antibodies. 

Too Clean For Their Own Good

Previous studies found that city dwellers have higher rates of other types of allergies such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever, according to MyHealthNewsDaily

But it may well be due in some part to the fact that our immune systems are depleted because so many of the germs in our environment are killed by cleaning. "We’ve developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past," said Marc McMorris, a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System. "As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies."

Peanut Allergies on the Rise

Studies have already looked at the increases in peanut allergies in the past few decades. According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, “Peanut allergy appears to be increasing, and we are just beginning to recognize potential genetic, environmental, and immunologic influences on the development and progression of the disease.” 

Exposure to germs and peanuts themselves may actually impact instances of the sometimes deadly allergy. Another study published in Food Research International and reported on Food Navigator may have some important news for pregnant moms. The study found that eating peanuts during pregnancy may help reduce instances of the allergy in babies. 

The peanut allergy phenomenon may go far beyond the famous legume itself. 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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