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Understanding Peanut Allergies

Thursday, 24 Aug 2017 04:29 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When I was young, I don’t recall anyone having a peanut allergy. In fact, we used to eat peanut butter sandwiches nearly every day at my elementary and middle schools.

But now peanut allergies are common in our schools. Kids are even told not to bring peanuts or peanut butter sandwiches to the lunchroom because it could cause anaphylaxis — a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction — in some children.

Anaphylactic reactions can cause a drop in blood pressure and inability to breathe. A serious reaction to peanuts can even lead to death.

The prevalence of peanut allergies tripled in the United States between 1997 and 2007. Since then, they have increased to affect nearly 4 million people.

It’s now estimated that 1 percent of American adults and 3 percent of children have a peanut allergy.

In fact, it’s occurring among children all over the world, including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, as well as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, and parts of Africa.

The fact that it is so widespread rules out a genetic cause. Clearly, there is an environmental cause.

Theories include parasitic infections, mothers eating peanuts when pregnant, and too-sterile environments for children. But none of these can explain why children everywhere are suddenly deathly allergic to peanuts.

Something must be simultaneously happening to children around the world to be causing this epidemic.

A wonderful book by a mother of a child with a peanut allergy has brought the problem to light. I highly recommend The Peanut Allergy Epidemic by Heather Fraser.

Fraser begins by describing the history of anaphylaxis, a condition characterized by hives, inflammation, vomiting, shock, and drop in blood pressure.

In the 19th century, animals sensitized to egg whites went into shock and died after an injection.

When penicillin was first manufactured, peanut oil was used to prolong its action after injection. Hives were reported as a side effect.

In 1953, there were multiple reports of anaphylaxis and other problems from injectable antibiotics that contained peanut oil.

The peanut allergy epidemic began taking root in the early 1990s. That was the time period when vaccination rates for children increased, and the vaccination schedule started to expand.

The Hib (haemophilus influenza type b) vaccine was licensed in 1985. It contains a protein that has a similar molecular weight to the peanut protein Ara h1.

According to Fraser, “The countries in which the peanut allergy first emerged were those that paired the Hib with the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccine. This combination of two childhood vaccines has been shown to produce anaphylaxis in children and enhance the risk of allergic sensitization to foods in the diet or food proteins in a vaccine.”

In Tasmania, Australia, a 2001 study found that none of 456 children tested reacted to a peanut allergy test.

Before 2001, only 27 percent of Tasmanian children were vaccinated. But in 2001, the Australian government instituted a campaign vaccinating more than 94 percent of Tasmanian children.

In 2009, the rate of peanut allergies in Tasmanian children was 1.11 percent. Similar results were seen in other countries that increased vaccination rates.

Vitamin K injections in newborns also contribute to peanut allergies. And nearly all newborns in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and other Western countries receive vitamin K injections to prevent hemorrhagic diseases.

Injectable vitamin K1 contains castor oil. Fraser writes that antibodies to castor seed bind to similar proteins of other oil-seed plants, including peanuts and soy.

Therefore, injecting newborns with protein from castor oil would increase the risk for sensitization to other oil-seed plants — like peanuts.

Why aren’t all children allergic to peanuts? Each child is a unique biochemical individual, with his or her own ability to get rid of toxins.

Fraser explains that allergies are the body’s way to defend against toxins that cannot be excreted. Therefore, a child with a more compromised immune system, or those given too many vaccines, can be expected to have higher rates of allergies.

Fraser’s book is a warning that vaccines come with adverse effects, such as severe food allergies.

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It’s now estimated that 1 percent of American adults and 3 percent of children have a peanut allergy.
peanut allergies, vaccines, anaphylaxis, vitamin K
Thursday, 24 Aug 2017 04:29 PM
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