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Does wealth create peanut allergies?

Illustration for article titled Does wealth create peanut allergies?

Much ink has been spilled over the rise of allergies over the last few decades, and one of the most popular theories is that it's due to children not being exposed to enough germs. A new piece of research seems to support that theory, tying the incidence of the dreaded peanut allergy to people's socioeconomic status.

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The research by Sandy Yip is being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, and shows that between the ages of one and nine, sensitivity to peanuts is linked to households with more wealth.

This adds some weight to the "hygiene hypothesis", as comparatively more wealthy families are more likely to overly sanitize their children and environments. Seriously, not everything needs to be Purelled.

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The research of 776 patients with peanut allergies, also showed that this allergy is generally found more in males and ethnic minorities, it peaks between the ages of 10 and 19, and that only 20% of patients outgrow it. Interestingly, the development of the allergy in people older than nine isn't linked to wealth at all.

I guess this means the revolution will be trading molotov cocktails for jars of peanut butter to hurl at the ruling class.

Top image: Bobcatnorth on Flickr.

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DISCUSSION

When I was in school in the not-so-distant '90s, there was one kid in our school with a peanut allergy. We all thought it was bizarre, and pretty much left it at that. It's not like he was a social outcast or anything, hell, he was an athlete. It was no big deal, he knew what he could and couldn't eat, and everyone lived our lives.

Now, I sit at my desk and listen to my coworkers with kids talk about how insanely restrictive their lunch requirements are. It's not just that kids can't bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into school anymore, there are long lists of things that aren't allowed in school.

I mean, I'm all for protecting people with allergies, but what the hell? Are there *so* many kids with peanut allergies now that schools have to be a damn Stage IV clean room? It's weird to me, and I'm a pretty liberal dude. I get how dangerous it is, believe me I do, but where does it stop?