Nut Bans

I've been wondering why peanut allergies seem so much more prevalent today than when I was a kid. I've finally seen a good explanation -- paranoia about kids eating peanuts!

'Dr. Christakis notes that while it’s reasonable for schools and parents to take basic precautions, there is no scientific evidence that nut bans are particularly effective at protecting children. But more important, he argues, is that limiting widespread exposure to nuts can make things worse. The “policy of avoidance” means that fewer children are being exposed to nuts, likely increasing their risk for developing an allergy. A 2008 study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of 10,000 British children found that early exposure to peanuts lowers risk of allergy, rather than increasing it.'

NY Times


  1. Yep. I realize it is unfair to generalize, and it sounds like blaming the victim, but I swear that if you tell me a certain kid has all kinds of allergies, his parent(s) are hypochondriacs. The allergies are real, mind you, but I'm saying I don't think they just randomly strike certain kids.

    (And yes, my personality is affecting my own kid in certain undesirable ways, but I don't think I'm inculcating allergies to foods.)

  2. "Hypochondriac" isn't really the word I want. I'm saying, there are parents I meet who have a laundry list of all the things their kid is allergic to; it's more stuff than I would be able to keep track of.

    And I think that's why my son isn't allergic to all that stuff.

  3. Interesting, Gene.

    The same is also true of our exposure to bacteria, fungus, pollen and the like. The less we are exposed to dirt and nature as kids, the more vulnerable we are to it we grow up.

  4. I am trying to come up with a pun relating the title of this post to our policy of not blocking Silas Barta from posting on the blog. But nothing sufficiently clever comes to mind.

  5. Most people are violently allergic to poison ivy. The reason: How much poison ivy did they eat as children? I know I ate very little.

  6. our policy of not blocking Silas Barta

    You did that because you realized it would do you no credit to do so and you realized he's not really a nut. He's disruptive only because people can't stand his laser focus, long memory and perceived not-picking, and because other's don't like to admit when they're wrong.

  7. Sometimes exceptions prove the rule, Wabulon.

  8. Tokyo Tom wrote:

    [Silas is] disruptive only because people can't stand his laser focus, long memory and perceived not-picking, and because other's don't like to admit when they're wrong.

    Cool. While you're at it, can you explain why I'm afraid of heights?

  9. While you're at it, can you explain why I'm afraid of heights?

    Sure: "Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test."

    You prefer not to test God, or your luck, any more.

    Alternatively, God sensibly endowed us (via evolution, of course) with an intinctive sense that certain things are risky. That sense is manifested in fear and caution. Good things, no?

  10. Oh, as for Silas I meant no presumption; that was obviously a way to convey my own opinion.

  11. Anonymous3:11 AM

    Hey Wabulon,
    actually most people are NOT violently allergic to poison ivy. Poison ivy has naturally caustic oils that most people get a nasty rash from (contact dermatitis) which is not the same at all as an allergic reaction to it. I on the other hand AM violently allergic to poison ivy; so along with the nasty rash I also swell to horrific proportions and stop breathing within about fifteen minutes (severe anaphylaxis).
    I blame this on the fact that as a child, I used to get into poison ivy all the time, and then one day my teen-aged body said, "Enough is enough, stay away from that shit or I'm gonna kill you." :)

  12. Anonymous9:35 PM

    There's a school of thought that some of the allergies of modern children are triggered by vaccinations. Vaccines work by sensitizing the immune system, and allergies are the result of an overly sensitive immune system.

    This is unrelated to the claim that vaccines promote autism, which is so far unsupported.

  13. Oh, well, quite right, Anonymous. My college roommate worked with urushiol, which is so toxic that it was not possible to handle it in pure form in a normally equipped laboratory without methylating it.

  14. Urushiol? I hadn`t realized that`s what they call the sap, but urushi is the Japanese word for the lacquer they and Chinese have traditionally used for coating and preserving wooden implements. Urushi is derived from the sap of certain sumacs.

    But anonymous, our reaction to poison ivy is precisely an allergic one:

  15. TTom,

    Thanks for the ref. As to the J lg correspondence, if you can't figure it I sure can't. There are bound to be spurious correspondences between anything in the real world (unless the corpora are small, unlike languages). But I'm not entirely sceptical...Sumacs...Are those the infamous poison sumacs?


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