Unpacking Peanuts

15 Feb

Peanut Butter and Bacon Sandwich, from wikimedia.org/You can’t swing a fourth-grader these days without being warned about peanut allergies in schools, and I wanted to share a brief thought on the situation.

First, an overview:

New research indicates that early exposure to peanuts—most commonly peanut butter—and increasing consumption of it may be contributing to the prevalence of the allergy. Although there are no hard statistics in Canada, most agree the allergy is on the rise. – calgaryallergy.ca

Now, I don’t mean to be morbid, and I certainly don’t have any hard data to back the wild postulation I’m about to make, but, consider this:

There were 112 deaths associated with the construction of the [Hoover] dam. Included in that total was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned on December 20, 1922, while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. He is generally counted as the first man to die in the construction of Hoover Dam. His son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam’s construction, 13 years to the day later. – wikipedia

Hoover Dam, from wikimedia.org/That factoid may seem unrelated to peanuts, but I mention it as an example – one of thousands – regarding how cheaply death came, even just 90 years ago.

(These days any construction project that cost the lives of over a hundred workers would be easily spotted from the air, as the lines of approaching lawyers would stretch well over the surrounding horizon.)

What if it’s not the case that peanut allergies are on the rise, but, instead, that better care taking, and science, are simply keeping those at risk alive long enough for us to notice the need to take precautions?

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4 Responses to “Unpacking Peanuts”

  1. Jessica May February 15, 2011 at 13:52 #

    YAY SCIENCE!!

  2. Jeff February 15, 2011 at 14:47 #

    Good point. I ride a similar train of thought regarding the rise of Autism and the new ‘Autism Spectrum’. Perhaps some kids are just being diagnosed more often these days or rather over diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Or, maybe we’re all just doomed.

    ; J

    • JRD Skinner February 15, 2011 at 14:52 #

      Agreed, wholeheartedly – I think a lot of the supposed rise in mental-health related issues is actually just a rise in awareness of those issues.

      • bmj2k February 15, 2011 at 22:24 #

        Some of it may also be a misdiagnosis caused by preoccupation. As a teacher, you would not believe how many normal kids allegedly have an ADHD or Aspergers diagnosis in their file. I am not a doctor but as an educator I have been trained in certain medical conditions and I am also a certified crisis councelor. Many people in the medical field err on the side of medication when they are simply unable to cope with “today’s kids.” I know that sounds old-fashioned but kids process information in a very different way then the previous generation, and their attention spans are shorter but not in any way due to ADD or any other condition. I have little training in Autism in particular but since no new environmental or biological trigger has been identified I suspect that it is just a difference in diagnosing today.

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