Allergy Alert: Peanut Problem Growing

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CLEVELAND--  You have a peanut allergy.   It’s no laughing matter.  Peanut allergies can be deadly.  Some cases in children can be so severe, just the smell of peanuts can send them into anaphylactic shock.

Six percent of Americans have food allergies, many of whom don’t know it.

It’s a mystery.  The million dollar question is why is it getting worse?  “Some theories are the hygiene hypothesis - that the world is too clean,” says Dr. Samuel Friedlander, an allergist at University Hospitals.  “Obesity - lack of exercise and others (causes) may include greenhouse gasses.”

No one knows the exact reason or cause of peanut or legume allergies.

One myth is that when you’re allergic to peanuts you’re allergic to all nuts.  Not true says Dr. Friedlander.  Many people are just allergic to peanuts and not tree nuts, like almonds, walnuts and coconuts.

Another myth: waiting until your baby turns two before you introduce peanuts into their diet to help safeguard them from peanut allergies.  Wrong again.

“Currently the thought is to add any foods that are developmentally appropriate,” explains Dr. Friedlander.  “What we found is that we were thinking we would delay food allergies by preventing peanuts, eggs and milk.  We didn't do that.  We probably made some individuals worse.”

You don’t need a referral to see an allergist, you can just make an appointment.  If you think you may have a food allergy, you’re urged to get a test.  It only takes 15 minutes to see results and it’s not painful.

The good news is: you can grow out of food allergies, and numerous peanut studies are underway.

Dr. Friedlander believes we will have the peanut problem under control in his lifetime.

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