Why is a PA so different today compared to yrs ago?

Posted on: Tue, 03/25/2003 - 12:24am
samirosenjacken's picture
Joined: 09/30/2002 - 09:00

My cousin is 23yrs old and was diagnosed with a pa when he was 1. I was just a kid then but all I remember was my aunt telling us he almost died eating a PB&J sandwich. She never made a big deal around us about it. None of us were told to avoid pb if he was around. On xmas our family always had walnuts and chestnuts and no one was told to avoid them around him. There was no such thing as a peanut free lunch table and I know he didnt' carry anything at school just in case. His mom had something but it wasn't an epi pen. His mom was concerned but it's nothing like what we do.

Today, we are all very much involved with this. We watch our kids like hawks. We demand more from the schools. We live in fear. How come??

Were there more peanut related er visits and deaths in the past? Are we just more informed of the "what could happen" that we take it to the extreme?

A friend of mine asked me these questions and I really had no answer. Now mind you, these weren't asked to challenge the seriousness of a pa! She is very informed and handles it just as I do! But her questions were valid. I know there is an increase in these types of allergies... but were there more fatalities back then which has made us more diligent?

I was just curious what you guys think. I know my kids will never leave home without an epi pen, benadryl and their medic alert bracelet. BUt how did all those kids 20yrs ago survive if they didn't have all those things?

Posted on: Tue, 03/25/2003 - 12:39am
Christine's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

First of all, I don't have any statistics to back things up, so this is really only an opinion. I think we are SO much smarter about all kinds of medical issues these days than we were 25 years ago. I'm not sure if there were more deaths back then, but there certainly are more documented cases of allergy, hence more research. With all the people now afflicted with this, we are seeing that there are also varying intensities in allergic response. So while your friend may have been "fine" with minimal protection, we now know that a certain percentage of the PA people are not fine with that approach.
Secondly, 25 years ago (let's see, I was 13 then) I can tell you that peanut products were not nearly as prevalent as they are right now. And it keeps growing. I don't think I even heard of peanut butter flavored ice cream until I was a teenager, and even then, you could only get it at a Baskin Robbins or something. It was a rare treat to get something like that. About the only thing that stood out was Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Pay Days, and a few different candies that had some nuts. Other than that, it wasn't in all the stuff it's in now (ice cream, boxed cereals, tons of different cookies, etc.). There were just a few stand outs (specifically I remember only Nutter Butters). This definitely was a more manageable situation for the PA person.
Last of all, I do think that this particular generation of parents (myself included) are probably more hypervigilent about our children than ever. I know my mom was more vigilent to me than her mom was to her, and I am more so with my children. I think it's just the "state of the world" today. I just read an interesting article in The Washington Post last week about "parents today" and how we really coddle our kids in every way. The author's subject matter involved our kids going off to college and how the parents micromanage every aspect of their college life, whereas, in the 60s, the parents just kind of dropped Johnny of at the steps of college and said "keep your grades up." The author did note that the 60s attitude was not good either, but somewhere along the way, we've gone to far in the other direction. So, I think my answer to your question is that predominately there is more knowledge about the PA and how bad it CAN be, there are more peanuts in the food items to have to worry about, and as a society we probably are a little in the "over reaction" mode.

Posted on: Tue, 03/25/2003 - 1:24am
Bootsy's picture
Joined: 11/13/2002 - 09:00

One reason why we are more diligent than prior generations may be because of the proliferation of peanut products now available and the marketing of these products to children. Also, these days everything seems to revolve around food and eating, which probably leads to more anxiety on the part of parents of peanut allergic children as there are many more social situations where this has to be dealt with. Also, being more educated and informed about something like peanut allergy doesn't necessarily ease one's anxiety - just the opposite, being informed actually increases one's fears and anxieties. Just some thoughts.

Posted on: Wed, 03/26/2003 - 8:31am
Pester's picture
Joined: 08/03/2000 - 09:00

In 1960 when I was first hospitalized from a reaction there were 250,000 of us in the US. Depending on what you read today it's 1.5 to 3 mil. Of those 80% are under 21. What a ramp up!
True, we didn't have peanut butter cup breakfast cereal but the products had little reason to list peanuts if used as inexpensive filler. I believe "Plain M&Ms" killed a few people prior to adding the last ingredient (chocolate contains peanuts)
Final note; many deaths back then I understand were attributed to asthma that might have been pa.
Rgrds, Dan

Posted on: Wed, 03/26/2003 - 8:43am
Pester's picture
Joined: 08/03/2000 - 09:00

In 1960 when I was first hospitalized from a reaction there were 250,000 of us in the US. Depending on what you read today it's 1.5 to 3 mil. Of those 80% are under 21. What a ramp up!
True, we didn't have peanut butter cup breakfast cereal but the products had little reason to list peanuts if used as inexpensive filler. I believe "Plain M&Ms" killed a few people prior to adding the last ingredient (chocolate contains peanuts)
Final note; many deaths back then I understand were attributed to asthma that might have been pa.
Rgrds, Dan
Sorry if posted twice. I checked prior to redo

Posted on: Wed, 03/26/2003 - 11:31pm
Sarahfran's picture
Joined: 06/08/2000 - 09:00

I don't know that it has changed that much, actually, except that there are more people with the allergy so there is more awareness. But it's very possible that your aunt was just more laid back about the allergy than those of us on this board tend to be. There are still a lot of people in the world who are also laid back about it. But I also know of two people about the same age as your cousin (slightly older, actually) who were far more vigilant about their peanut allergies--one was my sister's friend in high school who always carried an epi-pen, refused to sit at a lunch table if someone had peanut butter (my sister and her friends quickly learned to just not bring it), and always kept people informed about the seriousness of her allergy. Another friend of mine who is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts has also been similarly vigilant--she was the one who really educated me (before I even had a child with PA!) about nut allergies and who taught me the trick of telling servers at restaurants that "she will die, right here in your restaurant at your table, if she accidently eats peanuts" in order to get them to understand the seriousness of our queries about ingredients.

Posted on: Thu, 03/27/2003 - 1:09am
river's picture
Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

I think a lot of it has to do with awareness and with the increasing numbers of PA.
In another thread I mentioned how the children in my generation just ran wild like squirrels. Most of the time parents didn't know where they were. When children died or were seriously injured, the community didn't question that maybe the children should be better supervised---they just looked at it as an unfortunate accident that happened to someone else. They were just completey unaware and by today's standards, negligent.
Most of the children in my community did come home at the end of the day, (just like your cousin survived his childhood,) but that doesn't mean that they weren't in dangerous circumstances on a daily basis. When I remember back, I kinda shudder.
Is it taking it to the "extreme" or is it acting like modern educated and responsible parents?

Posted on: Fri, 03/28/2003 - 11:11pm
Codyman's picture
Joined: 08/14/2002 - 09:00

My oldest sister is 44 years old and as a child had allergies to peanuts, nuts, fish, shellfish, strawberries, milk, eggs and perhaps others that I can't remember now. She also had/has asthma and excema. I vividly remember many times that my parents had to rush her to the hospital not knowing what was happening with her. I also remember that she spent ALOT of time at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto. At the time there was no epipen for her to carry around and it was trial and error to figure out what was making her sick.
My mom told me that they found out she was allergic to strawberries when she took a bite of a strawberry filled white powder donut and reacted in seconds.
When I was about 5 years of age I also remember that all my brothers and sisters (5 children total) had to go to the hospital for numerous tests -- I remember the nose plug for the breathing tests -- to find out if we would follow in my sisters foot steps.
Having so many allergies, asthma, excema I can only imagine how frustrating it was for my parents to care for her.
My sister and I had a long talk about peanut/nut allergies 4 years ago when my daughter had a reaction and was diagnosed with peanut/nut allergies. My sister now has an epipen but still encounters people/co-workers who want to 'test' the validity of her allergies. One co-worker baked a cake and when my sister asked if there were nuts in it the co-worker said no. One bite and my sister reacted and was off to the hospital ... the co-worker had ground up the walnuts to see if my sister was telling the truth about her allergies!!

Posted on: Sat, 03/29/2003 - 12:56am
river's picture
Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

What a horrible co-worker! For this reason (and others), I teach my son never ever eat any baked goods from anyone's home. Thanks for sharing this story, it could help somebody avoid disaster.

Posted on: Sat, 03/29/2003 - 3:27am
samirosenjacken's picture
Joined: 09/30/2002 - 09:00

OMG that just makes me sick!! Your sisters co worker should have been arrested as far as I am concerned!! That is just awful! Thank goodness your sister is ok!

Posted on: Sat, 03/29/2003 - 7:33am
cathlina's picture
Joined: 06/29/2001 - 09:00

I am 50. There were definitely not as many peanut products when I was growing up.
I noticed about 7-8 years ago, peanuts began appearing in everything. Manufacturing methods have changed, too. There is way too much peanut in the food chain.

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