I have fond memories of childhood. Remember those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—for me 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich and 1/2 a jelly sandwich—in the cafeteria? Remember the days when you didn’t need a note from the surgeon general to BRING something with peanuts into a school. Perhaps I am just getting old, but I have to say, in a graduating class of over 600, I honestly don’t recall anyone having the nut, dairy, egg allergies of today’s kids. One does NOT have to delve too deeply into the differences in lifestyle between yesterday’s devil-may-care, fly by the seat of your pants child rearing, and today’s everything we touch is potentially going to kill your kid standard.
Not having children, I can only speak as one who actually was a child (maybe still is). Fine, I get it. You only have your child’s best interests at heart, but a new study reported in the NY Times has me scratching my head in utter disbelief. The Times went so far as to call this study’s conclusion—that we should introduce “killer” nuts and dairy in the early months of your childs life— “a radical new treatment!” Radical? New?
Building immunities—exposing ones’ self to germs on a small scale is hardly a new concept in medicine. In fact, there was a study done in 2011 that showed children in day care, indeed, did get sick more often. However—and this is a biggie—by the time these same children got to grade school they were less likely to be sick. This research, done in Australia, says “Although children may become ill when first starting care, or when infections are spread in the care setting, there is no evidence that this leads to poorer health later on. Rather, it may be that exposure in infancy to a wider range of infectious diseases provides some protection against infections at school age.”
This leads me back to my “REALLY?” moment. The Time’s is heralding this study— introducing allergenic foods like peanut butter and eggs to babies as young as 4 to 6 months old from the study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice—as if it’s new and unheard of. But the reality is THIS IS A TRIED AND TRUE CONCEPT, PEOPLE! I will not divulge my age, but suffice it to say, I grew up loving music from the late 70’s and early 80’s. That being said, I don’t ever recall my mother fearing I’d go into anaphylactic shock when I came home from school and had a snack.
What have we done to an entire generation or two out of unfounded fears? I say this from a place of frustration. I’ve worked around doctors for…. Well….let’s just say a really long time. I read a lot of medical studies. I find it saddening and maddening that research is now showing that the number of young children affected by peanut allergies doubled between 1997 and 2002. Doubled! But you don’t need statistics to prove the obvious. HONESTLY…I find more than a very small handful of friends my age that have either the peanut thing or the dairy thing. There are exceptions to the theory that allergies are the new big thing. My brother has always been allergic to the lawn, but to this day I still believe that was so he didn’t have to mow it.
So really, is this new radical life changing information or just a concept that we’ve long known works on illnesses (why do you think the flu shot works?) being applied to allergies.
I’m going to go have some peanut butter right now. If this blog page goes silent, then you will know I was wrong. But I believe my own not too radical thinking will prevail. Exposure to all sorts of things can actually make us stronger. Just something to think about.