Peanut and tree nut allergies are the most severe of all food allergies, affecting approximately 3 million Americans, and causing 100 -- 150 deaths from anaphylactic shock annually and many more hospitalizations. In industrialized nations, the allergy has been rapidly increasing in children, for causes that are not entirely understood. One study showed that between 1997 and 2002, peanut allergies in children doubled in the United States. Today, an estimated one percent of all children suffer from the allergy.
I developed a peanut allergy a couple of years ago. I didn't figure it out at first--I was having horrible asthma attacks that inhalers were not helping. I would take a Benadryl, and eventually, the attacks would subside. After a few of these in a relatively short period of time, I realized that it was the peanuts. I learned that each exposure makes the next one a little worse, so figuring out before it became life-threatening was very lucky.
I had started off having indigestion after eating peanuts, but didn't really think about it too much. Just when I'd forgotten about the last bout of indigestion, I would eat them again and feel yucky. When I finally sorted out that I was having a much more severe reaction, peanuts were banned from my life--and I haven't had a single asthma attack since, even during allergy season.
So, this article really made me happy. A hypoallergenic peanut? I miss peanut butter. The soy alternatives just don't taste right, and it's a very easy source of protein. I hope that they find a way to grow them inexpensively so that the majority of peanut-based products can be switched over. I'll celebrate with a Butterfinger!