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Patients go nuts over new allergy therapy

Original post made on Jan 17, 2018

This month marked a major milestone for 8-year-old Amelia, who flew across the country to eat a handful of nuts that, just months ago, would have sent her into life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 9:15 AM

Comments (4)

Posted by MP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 17, 2018 at 11:41 am

Best allergy prevention for kids? Adopt a cat or two from the animal shelter

Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Excellent article.


Posted by AJL
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Copying my comment from the Mtn Vw Voice, which first published the article:

I think this is fantastic. Glad to see that people are being helped!

One correction to the article, though. I think it’s very important to correct this in the context of this important work, so that parents don’t wrongly blame themselves, and (as many researchers now contend) so that people don’t make dangerous mistakes on a wrong-headed belief that we “are too clean”.

The article above says:
“While the jury is still out on what's causing the sharp increase, one of the prevailing theories is the so-called hygiene hypothesis: The idea that creating a germ-free environment for children at a young age weakens the immune system, making the body more likely to rebel against common food allergens.”

While the jury is indeed still out on the cause, the mainstream of the research community seems to have long moved beyond this interpretation, which is currently viewed as dangerous in an urban-legend-like way, encouraging poor hygiene. Hygiene isn’t the absence of germs, hygiene means practices that reduce the spread of infectious diseases - which could even mean encouraging a healthy microbiome, it does not necessarily mean sterility (depending on the context).

Read this very recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Web Link
Excerpts (read the whole article):

“[The] hygiene hypothesis,” first proposed in 1989 ... has become enshrined in popular culture: ... many scientists are eager to see it thrown out.”

“”We know ... why our immune system’s regulation is not in terribly good shape, and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with hygiene””

“The hygiene hypothesis is a “dangerous misnomer ...”

“ Still, the catchy hygiene hypothesis continues to be widely embraced by the public, the media, and even scientists”

Posted by AJL
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

While there may be many benefits of adopting cats and dogs, there is no compelling evidence that this will reduce allergies in kids. Early studies that correlated cats and dogs in households with reduced allergies gave way to contradictory evidence that the presence of cats increased risk. Studies of third-world poorer households found the presence of dogs increased allergy and asthma. And as you know, correlation is not causality.

Given the concurrent increase in canine and feline allergies during the upswing in human allergies - dogs and cats have seen an equivalent allergy epidemic themselves - and the inescapable fact that dogs and cats do not lead sterile germ-free lives, the more likely theory that the allergy increases are the result of environmental factors in indoor environments is more consistent with all the evidence. I have my own opinions about what that is, and even how to help families who are allergic to their animals to keep them (and have done this), but the advice to get a cat to reduce allergies is not supported by the sum of evidence.

I'm sure the last thing you want to do is encourage people to take on pets that they later abandon.

Dogs and cats have many benefits and don't need to be hyped as an unsupported medical treatment, which coukd backfire on all involved.

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