Has your family’s high socioeconomic status put your child at risk for developing peanut allergies? According to a recent study, parents who are wealthy, as well as those who encourage overzealous hygiene, may inadvertently increase their child’s peanut allergy risks.
The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, supports the “hygiene hypothesis.” This concept speculates that lack of exposure to environmental bacteria and common microorganisms may suppress a healthy immune system. It has been used to explain the rising prevalence of many health conditions, including food allergies and autoimmune diseases.
The ACAAI researchers conducting the study analyzed blood samples taken from 8,306 patients and correlated them to the patients’ socioeconomic status. Of the samples, 776 were found to have elevated antibody levels signifying a peanut allergy. Children whose families had a yearly income of more than $75,000 were more likely to have a peanut allergy.
Peanut Allergy Changes Over Time
The antibody levels generally peaked when the children were between 10 and 19 years old, indicating that teens with peanut allergies have the strongest reactions to the peanut protein. According to the study, 20 percent of children outgrew the peanut allergy by the time they reached adulthood.