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November 23, 2005

Ignorance in the press

Well, our uneducated press is at it again, this time attacking the topic of peanut allergy with little knowledge of the topic. Apparently no research is required before getting any article published in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Freedom of speech or just not enough news in HI to fill the web page? Anyhow, let’s take a closer look at the would-be-funny-if-it-had-some-intelligence-built-in article.

After comparing the pending bird flu pandemic to the “lowly peanut” the author goes on to say this...

A peanut allergy can be so severe that if a kid even sees a picture of a peanut in a magazine, he can go into shock.

Well that’s a new one for me, someone who has research the topic and is pretty familiar with the extreme cases. Maybe he was confused, maybe someone had some form of a sleep apnea attack after reading one of his articles?

Students who want to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches soon will be relegated to lunch tables in the parking lot (near the smoking teachers).

Okay, I’ll admit, the picture this paints has some element of humor in it. You know, the 40 year old teacher with the rough voice and leathery skin saying to a student at the end of the table with jelly stains on his shirt, “Hey kid. Pass the ashtray, would ya.”

I suspect it has something to do with the decrease in breast-feeding in favor of chemical-laden baby "formulas." One purpose of breast feeding is to pass on to the child immunities enjoyed by the mother, or at least her taste for spicy foods.

You suspect? Well, given your intense research and knowledge of this topic, we readers really appreciate your insights here.

The fact is, not a lot of kids are dying from peanut exposure. Only 200 people nationally die each year from all types of allergic reactions.

I always love this stat. We, as a country, are now well educated on the dangers of severe food allergies and are much more prepared to handle them. So, now that the number of cases have grown exponentially (and we still don’t know why) yet only 200 people die from exposure, we should kick back and let up on our efforts to keep the kids safe. Sounds like a great idea, eh?

And many people grow out of allergies. I was allergic to eggs when I was a kid. But my dad seemed to have so much fun eating a soft-boiled egg (chipping off the little top of the egg, spooning the gooey mess onto toast) that I willed myself to overcome the allergy. Maybe kids suffering from "peanut envy" when they see other children enjoying a PB&J sandwich eventually will overcome their allergic reactions to the lowly legume.
Another great misnomer is that all allergies are outgrown. Okay, one more time for those who have done little to no research (that would be you, Mr. Honolulu)… peanut allergy is rarely outgrown and tends to become more severe with every exposure. Childhood egg or milk allergies are often outgrown. Good thing your dad didn’t like shelling peanuts at home and throw the shells on the floor, eh?

Posted by David at November 23, 2005 9:34 AM