The Peanut Gallery on Peanut Allergies

“Allergies are increasing because women do not breast feed long enough,” Dr. Fuhrman responded when I asked him to comment on this report claiming peanut allergies in children are on the rise. Andrew Stern of Reuters has more:

Allergies to peanuts and other foods are showing up in children at younger ages for reasons that are not clear, researchers said on Monday, and some urged parents to postpone exposing susceptible children to peanuts.

In a study of 140 children with peanut allergies, the median age of the first allergic reaction was 14 months among those born between 2000 and 2005, compared to 22 to 24 months among allergic children born between 1988 and 1999.

"There's a valid reason to delay introduction to products containing peanuts," said Dr. Todd Green of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Fuhrman couldn’t agree less. “It is not delaying peanut introduction that will solve this problem, it is delaying the unhealthful cessation of breast feeding at too young an age,” Dr. Fuhrman points out. He talks more about it in Disease-Proof Your Child:

The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.

What really surprised me is according to Dr. Fuhrman roasting peanuts actually increase their allergen potency. Maybe it’ll make parents think twice before they slather peanut butter and jelly on two slices of white bread and shoo their kids off to school.

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Susan - December 4, 2007 11:26 AM

I love Dr. Fuhrman, but I find his hypothesis doubtful. My daughter breastfed till 2.5 years old, and has a peanut allergy. Although we already knew to postpone peanut products until at least age 5, an aunt gave her some peanut butter crackers sometime around the age of 2, and that did it, apparently.

Joel Fuhrman, MD - December 4, 2007 2:29 PM

One person's experience does not give them the knowledge-base to disagree or agree. Scientists who investigate this look at populations with certain
risk factors and look for a pattern, they do not make conclusions based on
the experience of one person. I did not say it was impossible to develop a
peanut allergy if breast fed adequately, there are lots of other reasons too, not discussed here. However, the point is that this major explosion in peanut allergies is related to the cessation of breast feeding too early, the roasting of nuts, the use of antibiotics early in life, lack of dirt, bacteria and an overly-sterile environment, essential fatty acid imbalance and too early introduction of solid food, as well as other reasons that are not totally understood.

Jayson - December 4, 2007 8:23 PM

Nice to see a post like this. One subject that I would like to see illuminated a bit more would be nuts and allergies.


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