How do you answer this question?

Posted on: Fri, 08/08/2003 - 9:23am
ShariLB's picture
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When I tell people that my two boys (3 and 1.5yo) are peanut and tree-nut allergic, I often get the response "Oh really? Seems like those allergies are so common now...we never heard about them when we were growing up."

The person usually sounds doubtful of the severity of the allergy and skeptical that so many children have peanut allergies.

What is a good response to this question? Is there any data about % of kids with peanut/tree nut allergies now and then? And does the medical community know why so many more children have the allergy now?

If these skeptics saw my kid with hives and swelling face, or had a child with the problem, I'm sure they'd understand!

Thanks!

Posted on: Fri, 08/08/2003 - 2:13pm
Driving Me Nutty's picture
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ShariLB -
I had the same issue with my in-laws when we found out my dd was PA a few months ago. My initial response to her was that it is similar to SIDS - no one talked or knew about that back then either but since the campaign to put babies to sleep on their back, SIDs deaths decreased by 80%. Things change over time.
Now, my response is more scientific since I've done a lot of reading on it. I tell them that there are several different studies to find out the cause of the rise of food allergies in general. Some say it is because of all the preservatives and chemicals that we use now. I personally feel it is genetics and not dependant on whether a someone ate PB while pregnant or nursing.
Maybe you could stress that even though they are more prevalent, it doesn't decrease the seriousness of the issue. Schools are creating table free classrooms etc. You could stress that it is life-threatening and life-long -- and not just the common sneezing/wheezing allergy that most people think of.
Since our initial discussion, my MIL has come 'on board' after talking to friends and reading about it. People just have to get educated and up to speed on it. I wouldn't worry too much about the everyday person that you run into 'getting it'. What IS important is that people that are with your child frequently understand the seriousness of it.
Pamela
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Mom to 2 y/o Karissa (PA >100 CAP RAST)

Posted on: Fri, 08/08/2003 - 3:15pm
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[This message has been edited by deegann (edited March 15, 2004).]

Posted on: Sat, 08/09/2003 - 12:39am
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Another theory is the "Hygiene Theory". Our kids get more vaccines than we did, and at earlier ages. Many of us are exposed to less dirt (rurul kids seem to have fewer allergies than suburban or urban kids). Therefore our immune systems have nothing to fight, so they look for something to flex their muscles on and settle for harmless substances like food.
Of course this is an oversimpification, but I'm sure you get the idea. And it's true, I knew relatively few kids with asthma growing up, and now it seems like 1/2 of my kid's friend's have it (as do my own kids!). I don't think I knew anyone with food allergies back then, although when dinosaurs roamed the earth, they probably didn't know why Johnny kept erupting in hives. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]
Amy

Posted on: Sat, 08/09/2003 - 1:19pm
Driving Me Nutty's picture
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Deegann,
I'm not sure if I read anything that gives the statistics on it. I'd love to see that also. I'm just basing it on everyone I've talked to. It seems everyone knows an niece or cousin with it now. And being that the schools now need peanut free tables and never did before. If I find some stats on it, I'll pass it on though!
Pamela
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Mom to 2 y/o Karissa (PA >100 CAP RAST)

Posted on: Sat, 08/09/2003 - 1:28pm
virginia mom's picture
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My mother was one of those people who thought that I was overreacting to my daughter's PA. She was the same one who had peanut butter chocolates on a Christmas Eve buffet and did not tell me until my family had been in her house for two hours (my then four year old PA daughter had been through the buffet a couple of times but, thankfully, had bypassed the chocolates). I let her "borrow" a copy of the "Peanut Allergy Answer Book" by Michael C. Young, M.D. After perusing it, she actually apologized to me for putting my daughter at risk! Keep in mind that she is the type of mother that has never apologized for anything in the forty years I've known her - this book is phenomenal! On pg. 22, it says that Hugh Sampson of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine has observed that there is a 55% increase in the number of peanut allergic children in the past ten years and the number of allergic reactions to peanuts in both children and adults has increased by 95% over the same 10 years. This is consistent with reports worldwide. These may be the kind of facts that you're looking for when "friends" try to downplay the severity of your child's PA.

Posted on: Sun, 08/10/2003 - 4:25am
Driving Me Nutty's picture
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Thanks Virginia Mom! I was just perusing that book today as I thought it might have those stats.

Posted on: Sun, 08/10/2003 - 9:23am
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[This message has been edited by StaceyK (edited October 21, 2004).]

Posted on: Sun, 08/10/2003 - 1:20pm
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[This message has been edited by deegann (edited March 15, 2004).]

Posted on: Mon, 08/11/2003 - 2:36pm
ElleMo's picture
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I tell them, that it is not definately known but mention many of the theories already mentioned here. Not everyone who asks this is a skeptic. Many are honestly curious & want to understand. So I always answer quite honestly & respectfully & without any underlying tone that I reserve for people with really obnoxious questions (such as the friend who was told not to bring certain foods into the house & asked 'it's your daughter with the allergy, why should everybody suffer?' -- he got a nasty response)
One thing that I always mention is that peanuts are used a lot more in processed items & we eat more processed items now so it more difficult to avoid peanuts now than when we were kids.
So we can't be 'quietly' allergic.
[quote]Originally posted by ShariLB:
[B]When I tell people that my two boys (3 and 1.5yo) are peanut and tree-nut allergic, I often get the response "Oh really? Seems like those allergies are so common now...we never heard about them when we were growing up."
------------------
Ellen
Allergic to Shellfish/ Mom to Jesse 9/01 who has PA

Posted on: Mon, 08/11/2003 - 11:54pm
choguy's picture
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To put it simply for those that ask: Before antihistamines and Epinephrine were readily available, most PA people died [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] ! Due to the genetic factor, there were fewer people inheriting a predisposition towards this allergy (and all food allergies in general). I also agree that the amount of chemicals the average person faces (by inhalation and in food) in their lifetime can cause many to have a hypersensitive immune system.
Troy

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