Recent developments for peanut allergies

Cultural tradition is an interesting factor when studying the culinary arts. Culinary academy students are very aware of how a society’s habits and preferences guide its cuisine. The American diet has been dealt a bit of a curve ball in recent decades.

Peanut allergies have been drastically increasing. The population’s growing inability to be around this legume has influenced the menus available at schools, restaurants and now ballparks. USA Today recently reported certain major league baseball stadiums have started offering peanut-free suites and seating areas. There are minor league teams offering completely peanut-free games to help spread allergy awareness. If it’s not safe to eat peanuts and Cracker Jacks at a baseball game, where can you eat them?

Fighting allergies
These growing allergies are no joke. The PBS News Hour spoke with Dr. Kari Nadeau, director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University, about the American allergy epidemic. Dr. Nadeau stated the rate of allergies in the U.S. has been doubling every 10 years. The cause of this rise is still not completely known but it seems that both genetics and environment could be to blame.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the results of a study that might have found a way to slow the increase of peanut allergies. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from King’s College London and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital. The team hypothesized infant exposure to certain foods would decrease their sensitivity as they got older. The experiment found infants who were exposed to peanuts were much less likely to develop an allergy than infants who were not exposed. In repeated trials, early peanut exposure reduced the development of allergies in groups of infants whether they showed early signs of sensitivity or didn’t.

In 2000, The American Academy of Pediatric advised parents to keep their very young children away from peanuts to fight the growing allergy epidemic. In 2008, the academy reviewed the research and discontinued its promotion of this tactic. This new study indicates this period of time may have actually increased the population’s sensitivity to peanuts.

The New England Journal of Medicine indicated finding a method to alleviate peanut allergies was very important, as peanut sensitivity has grown faster than other allergies since 1997 and it was the leading cause of food allergy-related death in the U.S. in recent years.

The importance of peanuts
Allergies not only put people in danger of a mild to severe reaction, but also limit their diets.

The peanut can be an excellent source of protein and good fats. Those on a limited budget have found peanut products, such as peanut butter, can be very helpful in creating daily nutritional content. Studies conducted by Harvard University and other recent findings concluded people who consumed peanuts on a regular basis lived longer than those who did not.

Hopefully, this new allergy treatment published by the New England Journal of Medicine will receive further study and a permanent solution for allergy prevention is found. Peanuts have a place in American history and tradition, it is important to find a way to keep them safely part of our cuisine.

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