Forum Hosts Panel of Food Allergy Experts, Offer Some Useful Info for Parents

Thursday March 5, 2015

Last week, KQED’s Forum hosted a panel of food allergy academics to discuss a new study that shows giving peanuts to babies may stave off a peanut allergy.

If you’re already engrossed in food allergy studies, this wasn’t a surprising study. Our family doctor told us to offer Bean a host of common allergens as soon as we could, saying it might help prevent future food allergies. (Other than her known food intolerances, of course.)

Running through the food allergy gauntlet can feel like experts telling you what they don’t know. You will ask many, many, so many questions, only to have the expert in the room not really answer any of them, because they truly don’t know. There really just haven’t been enough studies, in what I like to think of as an emerging field.

I’m a little paranoid about cross contamination in our household. Several times, Bean has exhibited signs of ingesting something she shouldn’t have and when we scan her most recent meals, it’s all stuff we’ve given her hundreds of times. But, I’ll remember there was that one day that I made cookies for a friend using real butter — Bean didn’t have any, but could that possibly be the culprit? Is there butter residue in the kitchen sponge? Is that a thing that is even possible? Whenever we share a beach house with friends and family, Bean breaks out in all her symptoms by the end of the trip, even though I make sure to hand-wash all her dishes with a specially designated sponge. It can be maddening.

Lo and behold, one of the experts said there had been a study of children’s bedding, specifically the bedding of children who are allergic to peanuts. The study found their bedding contained peanut dust, even though the children completely abstain from eating peanuts. Peanut dust. Maybe I’m not being paranoid after all.

If you are new to food allergies/intolerances, I’d highly recommend listening to the program. It will serve as a great primer on the field, and it’ll be a one-stop place to get some leads on what kinds of studies have been done. The callers asked a wide-range of questions, far beyond the anaphylactic peanut allergy question the show’s title points to. All of us are confused and looking for answers; the experts tried as best they could to cull up studies that were relevant to each caller’s question.

At the least, it might be nice to hear someone other than your allergist tell you what they don’t know.



Listen to it here: Study: Exposing Infants to Peanuts May Prevent Peanut Allergies

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