16 12 2008

Yep, that does it.  We’re going to take the plunge.  Bite the big one.  Shut our eyes and take a bite of … the dreaded peanut.

Before I go too far, let me clue you readers in to one thing:  I’m not really scared of peanuts.  Or any other food for that matter.  I’ve never had food allergies of any sort, or any unsatisfactory response to any food for that matter, apart from some cramping after I stuff myself at Thanksgiving.  And once a poop that was nothing but blueberries.  That was strange, but not painful or life-threatening.

My husband on the other hand has food allergies.  And he had two really bad experiences with his allergies that understandably make him a bit anxious about how Masher will react to certain foods that are known to cause allergic responses.  We all know the culprits–nuts, seeds, seafood, berries–and the peanut is that the top of the list.

Now, I’m no immunologist, but I did wear a white lab coat and work in an immunology lab one summer, so that must qualify me to speak on this issue, right?  Sure, my experiments related to the effects of THC on the expression of certain markers in T cells, which has nothing to do with food allergies and a lot to do with pot, but still …  The thing is that I’ve been against this “withholding of certain foods until certain ages” thing ever since I first heard it.  It just never really made sense to me.  I can understand some people’s arguments about how the lining of the intestine doesn’t mature until later in infancy/toddlerhood, which means that potentially allergenic proteins might be able to pass through unfiltered and get into the wrong places, setting off an immune response.  I mean, I get that.  It makes sense in my small and undereducated brain.  But I feel more affinity for the idea that the body needs to face its attackers head-on.  The more fights you’re in, the better fighter you are.  You know, I want to know how Masher’s cute little body reacts to various substances, so I’m all for trying new foods one at a time, but I just don’t want to leave the “bad guys” out entirely.  

So, like I said, I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout nuthin’.  But other people do know stuff, including this Dr. Christakis, who’s a medical doctor and a professor at Harvard Medical School and writes a column in the British Medical Journal.  His latest column is about how we’re all nuts.  Seriously.  He says the current peanut-allergy situation in society today is like mass hysteria.  And he cites a brand-new study involving a group of kids in Israel and a group of British Jewish kids, comparing their consumption of peanuts and incidence of peanut allergies.  Apparently, even controlling for genetic factors and others, the Israeli kids who ate peanuts about 7 times per month starting around 8 months had far fewer peanut allergies than the Brits, who (like us) put off introducing peanuts until much later.  

And that’s why we’re going to go for it.  We’re going to eat some peanuts.  Just don’t tell my husband.  (Wink-wink, I know you’re reading this, honey.)




One response

16 03 2009
Hope for Food Allergy Sufferers « Drink of Water

[…] many years of our children’s lives.  In its story last night, ABC News also quoted the Harvard medical professor I’ve mentioned before who is campaigning against this culture of fear surrounding potential food […]

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