It's been said that money is the root of all evil, and while that may be a stretch, researchers say it could be the root of peanut allergies for some children. In a recent study they found that children from high income families were more likely to have peanut allergies than those from lower income families.
According a press release in allergist, researchers looked at 8,200 patients. They found that in children between ages 1 through 9 there was greater rate of peanut sensitivities in those who came from higher income households. Economic status did not seem to be related to those who developed the allergy later in life, but boys and racial minorities in general had higher rates of peanut allergies.
So what's money got to do with it?
Apparently scientists believe that the more money you have, the cleaner your surroundings, because they say this study supports the "hygiene hypothesis". This, in short, means that if your environment is too clean, your body is then ill-equipped to fight allergies and the like. Or simply -- why I justify picking up my kid's sandwich from the floor, dusting it off, and handing it back to him to finish. And hey, neither of my kids have allergies, so maybe there's something there.
I don't doubt there may be, but I find it a little offensive that they believe people with higher incomes have cleaner houses. Sure, if you have more money, maybe you can afford a housekeeper, and there are some cases of extreme poverty that leave families in unsanitary places, but for the most part I'm not convinced. There are plenty of people who are filthy rich -- quite literally.
Professor Katie Allen of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute is with me. She spoke to MSN about the study and said:
They're making a link that more affluent families are more hygienic, and I just don't agree with that –– it's a big stretch to say that the wealthier you are, the cleaner you are. They have shown a difference in ethnicity and unfortunately ethnic minorities are more likely to be less wealthy. So in fact what they may be describing is a genetic tendency in different racial groups.
She went on to say that parents shouldn't use this as an excuse to stop cleaning their houses either as it's not at a personal hygiene level, but rather about a "general population hygiene level".
So the bottom line I guess is to just take this new study for what it is -- a new study. One that needs more study and may or may not mean anything directly.
Does this study surprise you?
Image via chexed/Flickr