Monday, November 15, 2010

An ill-advised comment on peanuts

Upon arriving home this evening I was not only welcomed by Hidden B (torrid spousal kiss), Voov (loud acclamation from high chair), and Shmoop (whiny complaint from the floor, where he was lounging, practising to be a teenager) but also, on the kitchen table, this quarter's issue of The Advocate, the NEA's house publication.

The Advocate is best savored at leisure, like a fine malt whisky, so I'll save my review for future posts. Today I want to mention that the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology is still ongoing in Phoenix. It was at this meeting that, on Saturday afternoon, Donald Leung and three other immunology heavyweights engaged in the knock down, drag out brawl known as the Great Atopic Dermatitis Raft Debate. The four presenters each argued that their pet cell types (keratinocytes, T cells, etc.) play the most important role in eczema. Man, I'd like to know what they said, but the event wasn't webcast. I did find out, however, that the proceedings of the entire conference were videorecorded and are available on DVD-ROM-- for me, at the low low price of $340.

Maybe there's some way to get just the session I'm interested in, but it'd probably take more effort than I can spare. (I was also informed that audio recordings might be cheaper... but who's going to pay a hundred dollars for a podcast when these scientists are probably leaning heavily on Powerpoint diagrams?)
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The ACAAI meeting has been in the news, because the president of the whole shebang has gone on the record saying that people take peanut allergies too seriously. I'm sorry, but this immediately discredits his expertise. I know that latex and peanut allergies can be life-threatening; and their incidence is increasing. It doesn't matter if the incidence is low (~0.5%)-- in a school of, say, 1000, that means you have five kids who could potentially die if one of their classmates (it is clinically proven that 100% of kids are capable of being idiots) thought it might be funny to see what happens if Johnny takes a bite out of the wrong sandwich.

I know someone who died of an asthma attack; I also know someone whose wife nearly died from a latex allergy. I'm no expert, but I think peanuts probably pose the same caliber of problem.

This is one area in which America's "sue first, ask questions later" culture will work for the good of society. I can't imagine a school principal revoking a peanut ban because Dr. Bahna said so. Fewer peanut bans may get enacted, though.

For the record, I loves me some Snickers, and I eat PB&J every single day. But I'd quit on the spot if someone's life was endangered.
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A blog post worth checking out: in which a UK citizen of east Indian descent talks about her teenage experience with eczema. For me, too, eczema came on with a vengeance not long after I got interested in the opposite sex. I didn't develop big boobs to compensate, as she did-- but, on reflection, that's probably a good thing.

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