Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nut Bans: "A Gross Overreaction to the Magnitude of the Threat"

This is SUCH a great article...and from the NYT! I'll be printing it and sending it to our principle.

"...While nut allergies are clearly a risk to some children, often the response to this health concern represents “a gross overreaction to the magnitude of the threat,” argues Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, an internal medicine doctor and professor at Harvard Medical School, in a recent column in the British medical journal BMJ.

In the column, Dr. Christakis points out that about 3.3 million Americans are allergic to nuts, and even more — 6.9 million — are allergic to seafood. But of 30 million hospitalizations each year, just 2,000 are due to food allergies, and about 150 people die annually from serious allergic food reactions. That’s the same number of people killed by bee stings and lightning strikes combined. About 10,000 children are hospitalized annually with traumatic brain injuries from sports, 2,000 children drown each year, and about 1,300 die in gun accidents, he writes.

Dr. Christakis notes that while it’s reasonable for schools and parents to take basic precautions, there is no scientific evidence that nut bans are particularly effective at protecting children. But more important, he argues, is that limiting widespread exposure to nuts can make things worse. The “policy of avoidance” means that fewer children are being exposed to nuts, likely increasing their risk for developing an allergy. A 2008 study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of 10,000 British children found that early exposure to peanuts lowers risk of allergy, rather than increasing it." (source *emphasis mine)

The moral of this story is...I am forced to spend inordinate amounts of time in grocery store aisles checking every ingredient of everything I buy (was it made in a plant that at one time processed peanuts?!) when the child with the peanut allergy is still three times more likely to be SHOT than die from an exposure to nuts...

That being said, it may not be an ideal time for anyone to be eating peanut butter.

(H/T: Rickvid in Seattle!)

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