Last night I came across a very concerning paper regarding food allergies. Although almost a decade old (2004), this paper discusses the prevalence of food allergies over period of 5 years till 2004. According to the study, in 2004, it was observed that the number of kids with peanut allergy was doubled in just 5 years.
Right after this review was published, St. Mary’s Hospital in UK referred to it in an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Allergy. This article titled “New developments in food allergy : Old questions remain“, discusses various reasons pointing to exposure of peanuts from topical creams for rashes and eczema etc. It also asks questions if topical exposure to peanut through hands of someone who touched or ate peanuts might impact the allergies (even if the hands were washed with water only).
My question on both of these articles is really two fold. What changed in those 5 years to have the allergy rates increase by 100%? The data on this is very inconclusive. Even considering the topical exposure (limited exposure over the skin), do we seem to suggest that the personal care product or topical cream manufacturers have started using peanut oil in just last 5 years before this study? Does not seem right to me. Moreover, if that was considered to be the case, the peanut allergy rates haven’t seen to be dropping after this article as well. One could’ve guessed that if that was the trigger point for 100% increase, the manufacturers would’ve forced to move out of using the peanut oil. But nut allergy to date remains one of the biggest detected allergy in the US.
The second question is, when we question the exposure to peanut proteins even through washed hands, we are really looking for a farce root cause. It seems unlikely to me that such exposure to peanut proteins is new. We probably had similar or even more instances of people eating peanuts in presence of infants several decades ago than now. Then why is it that the peanut allergy now impacts over 4% of the new born population and it did not impact so many people earlier?
As you can guess where I am heading with this, there are much more things at play here which are probably not being looked at from a holistic perspective. Every thing unnatural being introduced to the expecting mother, the fetus and the baby need to be questioned. Did the doctors change prescription for pre-natal vitamins? Did we probably see a similar move from breast milk to formula milk during this time? Did the formula milk makers change some formula that might’ve caused such an increase? Or did the overall immunity go down for the entire generation? There are multiple questions that remain unanswered here.
After reading this, I just visited the Gerber website to see what’s in the infant formula milk. The ingredients list requires no less than a chemical major to understand. Interestingly it is also laced with Maltodextrin which is really a highly processed, cheap sugar substitute. But then again, the body converts it to sugar more readily than the regular glucose which is why athletes use it for instant energy. The elevated levels of blood sugar that Maltodextrin causes is already known to cause high inflammation & an impact on the overall immunity. An 8oz of Pediasure which is probably pushed as a single meal deal also contains over 18gms of sugar that comes mainly from Sugar and Maltodextrin .
Is it time that we re-think what we feed our babies & expectant moms?