Kids from upper-income families are apparently more likely to develop peanut allergies, according to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.
The study involved about 8,300 patients, some 9 percent of whom had an elevated antibody level to peanuts (the precursor to a peanut allergy). More significantly, the data apparently indicated that those children from higher-economic-status backgrounds had a greater rate of peanut allergies than their lower-income counterparts.
The premise — referred to as the “hygiene hypothesis” — is that wealthier and thus more sanitary households offers children less exposure to germs and therefore their immune systems don’t get as toughened up as those from less affluent environments. As the Medical Express website explains, “Over-sanitization might suppress the natural development of the immune system.”
In commenting on the findings, lead author Dr. Sandy Yip said:
“Overall household income is only associated with peanut sensitization in children aged one to nine years. This may indicate that development of peanut sensitization at a young age is related to affluence, but those developed later in life are not.”
Peanut-specific antibodies were apparently also more often found in males and in members of racial minorities.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, only 0.6 percent of the US population suffers from a peanut allergy.
WebMD explains that peanut allergy symptoms can run the gamut from mild to life threatening. They include upset stomach, a runny nose, skin rash, hives, sore throat, and diarrhea. A condition known as anaphylaxis is, however, a life-threatening reaction to eating peanuts.
“Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include problems breathing and swallowing, vomiting and diarrhea, dizziness, dangerously low blood pressure, swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and other parts of the body, and loss of consciousness. If not treated, death can result.”
Do you think it necessary follows that an affluent home is also more clean and hygenic?