Food Allergies, Part Deux

After things settled down over in the comments section of this post, I went back and reread what everyone had to say both here and here. There were two comments in particular that I wanted to revisit with regards to peanut allergies in the United States.

The first was written by Toyfoto:

In Africa they are saving children from starvation with a peanut-based product. They don’t have the allergies we have.

The second, written by Robin, said this:

It’s odd, here in Israel babies are practically weaned straight onto “Bamba“, a peanut-based puffed snack (think cheese doodle made from peanuts), yet you almost never hear of peanut allergies. OTOH, most Israeli kids don’t eat much peanut butter. Except for mine, who would probably starve without it, but bringing it to school is not a problem here.

Interesting, isn’t it? If severe and common peanut allergies are not as prevalent in other parts of the world, what is going on here? Why are there enough kids allergic to peanuts, I mean seriously allergic to peanuts, that there has to be a ban on their products in almost every place where young children congregate.

And it isn’t just peanuts. We know kids allergic to soy, milk, gluten, wheat and egg. When my daughter attend a Montessori preschool a couple of years ago, the director told me that they literally had dozens of Epi-pens in their medicine cabinets—all prescriptions filled by parents and sent to the school to protect their child from potential harm.

We were one of those families. As many of you know, Belly is allergic to milk. I’ve heard people blame immunizations (check), overly sterile environments (not our house), cesarean births (yup, she was an emergency), formula (check, but mostly breastfed) or possibly just better awareness of allergies. But, what if it is more than this? Will food allergies just keep getting worse and worse?

And, to those of you whose children have multiple food allergies, or ones so bad that your child could die from a smell: you have my empathy. Parenting is hard enough without this too.


  1. I am by no means an expert, but I have an inkling that we may made ourr own monsters by eating the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet).

    I don’t think people relaize the garbage that most people are stuffing into their faces.

    I a here in Miamai, recovering froma 7 hour spinal surgery. My sister is taking care of me. she is a blessing. But after coming from such a healthy diet(In our home) and coming here. I see what ANY people view as normal. Wow! It scares me to think that peole see this as normal.

    There is no rhyme or reason to an eating schedule here (I am not talking a Nazi style schedule), but get up at noon, go to bed at 3AM…you get my meaning.

    But they(My sister and her family) live on processed foods. All the good work I did back at home has gone out the window. And I truly beleive that over the decades that our Captains of Industry have been pumping our foods with such garbage, that there ay be no coming back. But I am a forever optimist.

    Go through your cabinets, pick up a box of something, and if you can read and know all of listed ingredients, should you really be eating it?

    *Removes soapbox*

  2. I think that a large number of children who might grow up to have severe allergies might actually die in infancy in those countries – The Baby certainly wouldn’t have survived to 3 in a third world country.

  3. Christie says

    We also have a severe milk allergy (as well as asthma and excema) with our 5 year old son. I am expecting our second child in days, and my son’s allergist has asked us to “protect” her new immune system with no vaccines for 2 years, exclusive breastfeeding for 12 months, no food prior to 6 months and then a schedule for introducing food. Also, I am to avoid milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts and peanuts while breastfeeding and they cannot be introduced to her until 1 year (milk), 2 years (eggs) and 3 years (nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish). We are willing to make the commitment because the research shows that siblings or children of those with food allergies, asthma and excema have a substantially higher chance of food allergies, asthma or excema. Curious if anyone else has done this and did it work? Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention.
    PS We are guilty of being HUGE peanut butter fans in this house.

  4. I’ve heard a lot of theories, some on it depends on what the mother eats when pregnant to vaccines to everything. One thing with milk allergies is that most countries don’t drink milk the way we do so fewer people who may have the allergy are exposed.

    My oldest is allergic to beans. Beans! It’s insane. I’ve barely found info on it, but if he eats more than just a couple bites he has severe stomach pains and spends the day in the bathroom. Not cool for his vegetarian mama who lives on beans.

  5. I was recently told by my kids pedi dr to lay off the milk while pregnant so as to not pass another milk allergy to the new baby…

    As much as I love milk I will try and avoid it and get my calcium from other things.

  6. The allergy thing is really a hobgobblin, isn’t it. I’m sure the diet; global food products; antibiotics; environmental contamination; over sterile environments and just bad luck are all involved.

    Studies aren’t terribly helpful when you consider who pays for them and even then they can be conflicting an inconclusive.

  7. I have life-threatening drug allergies myself (pennicillin AND sulfa antibiotics – makes getting an illness which requires a/b’s a wee bit challenging to say the least) and a few odd food allergies (melon and persimmon make my throat close up) but serious food allergies like the ones your families are dealing with seem so much scarier and more challenging.

    Re Beck’s comment, I’m not sure that’s the answer. Israel is certainly not a third-world country, especially when it comes to health care, and allergy levels here are still a lot lower. My gut feeling is that diet has more to do with it.

  8. PS By diet I mean all the hormones/chemicals/other unusual things that have found there way into even seemingly innocuous products, not the actual food choices anyone here is making for their family.

  9. I agree that we eat a-lot of junk but I also know a-lot of kids with food allergies that their Moms eat a very healthy/organic diet and exclusively breastfeed their kids. Usually kids with food allergies are diagnosed pretty early.

    I wonder what the vaccinations are like in other areas that don’t have the food allergies. Although I am not totally confident on either side of the vaccination issue, I think giving the kids multiple shots at as little as 2 weeks old can’t be good for their immune systems.

    This is an interesting topic and have enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts.

  10. SuburbanCorrespondent says

    antibiotics. antibiotics. antibiotics. Nowhere else in the world are they pushed in such quantity in kids so young as they are here. They have already found that kids are more likely to develop asthma if treated with antibiotics before the age of 1. My own newborn son had antibiotics dumped down him, followed by milk formula (against my wishes); he has a fixed dairy allergy. I have 5 other children and none of them have this allergy. And I didn’t avoid all dairy in their pregnancies, either.

    Christie, I’ve heard one theory saying that if a breastfeeding mother isn’t breaking her food down properly, proteins are escaping into the breastmilk. It is advised for the breastfeeding mother to take digestive enzymes with each meal. Also, I would avoid all allergens the first 2 weeks or so, until the baby’s intestinal lining is fully developed; before that time, they tend to have a leaky gut and be more susceptible to those undigested proteins.

  11. Mason's Mom says

    This is such an interesting topic. My son has a life threatening peanut allergy. He was a C-section delivery, but he was also exclusivley breastfed and I eat really healthy food and did throughout my pregnancy. I did eat some (not much at all) peanut butter but will not do that if I get pregnant again. Our allergist said the opposite of some of what has been mentioned here. He seems to think that maybe the prevalence of peanut butter in oiur diets is causing this. I can see where the examples from other countries would raise questions about this theory, but one point he brought up is that children in Asia are getting serious allergies to rice, which we never see here. In the US rice is considered one of the safest things to introduce (rice cereal is often the first thing people give babies) but in places where it is a constant in the diet it is causing problems. I have to believe that genetic engineering of our food has something to do with this. We were not made to digest the food we are eating. That can’t be good. I am also curious about the vaccination connection. My son is on a very staggered vaccination schedule and at three and a half has still not had a number of them. Still, it seems like another way we may be overwhelming their young immune systems and since allergic reactions are an immune response it makes sense that there would be a connection there.

  12. TraceyTreasure says

    My husband and I were just talking about our son’s allergies tonight. Our son was fine until we took him in for his vaccinations. After his shots, he was allergic to milk, grass and animals. I’m just sayin’……

    We “Eat Right 4 Our Type” and I swear by it! It works! I have cured some of his allergies with homeopathy. I love homeopathy!

    Hope you are happy and well!! Great posts!!


  13. Good ideas by everyone! I have had a serious (throat closing) shrimp allergy since I was 14 and I don’t think I ate shrimp more than twice a year, but that’s neither here nor there.

    My son is allergic to milk and I know I had ice cream almost every day of his pregnancy. Makes you wonder. It does make sense that over exposure can affect allergies.

    Both mine were exclusively breastfed for over 6 mos and breastfed for a loooong time. Both are vaccinated, though. Hmmm. It’s very interesting…

  14. Legally Bland says

    Hi, just found your blog using the “Next Blog” button on Blogger and am enjoying your posts and the comments.

    I don’t have any children of my own but I have worked as a nanny and have been babysitting for decades so I am shocked to hear all of this talk about allergies and school restrictions, etc.

    Just from my own anecdotal observations it seems like these allergies must be getting worse. I attended an elementary school with 70 children per grade K-8. We had ONE diabetic and a handful of asthma sufferers.

    Now, apparently the schools have dozens of these cases of fatal allergies and asthma. What are we doing wrong? Is the average American diet really that bad? I have an enormous extended family and no one has a serious allergy. Am I that isolated from this apparent epidemic?

  15. Alpha DogMa says

    I agree with Beck. Weeding out staples of our diet (rice, flour, milk, etc) is something that can only be accomplished in an industrial society with ample options for food alternatives.

    I wonder if there is a correlation between countries with low infant mortality rates also having high instances of childhood allergies?

  16. I recently wrote about this at the Green Mom Finds forum. In this post There are links to a site that looks at allergies in a much different way than any of the allergy sites or allergists we’ve been to. It’s interesting stuff and I HIGHLY recommend the links I included in the post.

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