The Peanut Allergy Epidemic

Explore how a small group of children affected by peanut allergies has exploded into a global epidemic.

Peanut Allergies

In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of children with severe peanut and food allergies arrived for kindergarten at schools in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

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In The Peanut Allergy Epidemic: What’s Causing It and How to Stop It (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015), Heather Fraser explains the phenomenon of a life-threatening allergy in children, in specific countries, occurred simultaneously, without warning and quickly intensified. The number of allergic children in the United States alone went from virtually none to about two million in just twenty years. As these children have aged, the combined number of American adults and children allergic to peanuts has grown to a total of four million.

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

The Problem of Peanut Allergy

The Constant Tension of the Unknown

Many Theories and Few Solutions

Nature vs Nurture

The Role of Helminths and Hygiene 

Helminths are worms that live in the human intestinal tract. It surprised researchers in the 1980s to discover that people heavily infected with worms had few allergies. One study confirmed that most Venezuelan Indians living in the rainforest had worms but no allergies while very few of the wealthy Venezuelans living in the cities had worm infections, but many had allergies.

This is a provocative concept. However, because it was developed before the rise in peanut allergy, it lacks specificity — again, why peanut and why the sudden increased prevalence in children?

The Absence of Injections

Excerpted with permission from The Peanut Allergy Epidemic: What’s Causing It and How to Stop It by Heather Fraser. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.