According to a recent study, the number of cases reported of peanut allergy in children has tripled in one Midwestern county in the last decade.
On reviewing medical records of hundreds of children in Olmsted County, Southeast Minnesota, researchers found that new diagnoses of peanut allergy rose from two out of 10,000 kids in 1999 to seven out of 10,000 kids in 2007.
In all, 65 out of 10,000 kids in the county had a verified peanut allergy in 2007. Although the number of kids with this allergy may vary from one place to another or from one study to another, Dr. Ruchi Gupta who is an associate professor of pediatrics at the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said that the recent study adds evidence to earlier findings that peanut allergies especially among children is on the rise.
Most peanut allergies are detected in early life when toddlers are first exposed to different solid foods. Almost 20 percent of allergies in children disappear on their own as the child grows older.
Maria Rinaldi, epidemiologist at University of Minnesota and lead author of the recent study said that estimates of peanut allergy vary due to the manner in which the allergy is defined for research purposes. Rinaldi and her team verified laboratory-confirmed peanut allergy from records of almost 500 kids in the county. 171 kids were confirmed as having peanut allergy.
She said that irrespective of the definition of peanut allergy, its occurrence is on the rise. Almost three-quarters of new diagnoses were in kids aged two years and below and almost 70 percent of them were boys.
There are two theories to prove why allergies are increasing. The first states that due to hygienic conditions like city dwelling with lesser chances of infection, smaller families, sanitization, vaccines, and antibiotics and so on; our immune system is less busy with germs and prone to attack harmless food proteins instead. The second theory suggests that due to vitamin-D deficiency by staying more indoors or using sunscreen, immune system responses could be altered.
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