Go together like peanut butter and babies.
February 25, 2015 6:55 AM   Subscribe

For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended avoiding feeding peanut products to very young children to minimize the risks of developing a severe peanut allergy. Turns out that might not have been good advice. A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests early exposure to peanuts is a better strategy. And while you're at it, don't worry about sanitizing everything in the dishwasher; hand-washing dishes is also associated with fewer allergies.
posted by Metroid Baby (129 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's like some sort of vaccine or something.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:59 AM on February 25, 2015 [34 favorites]


What about using a dishwasher but not rinsing first, and of course not using the sanitize cycle but just the regular cycle? Sometimes that leaves a little food, even. Or what if you run the quick cycle instead of the regular one? Or run it without detergent?

Handwashing dishes seems like a lot to ask.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:01 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've been hand-washing my baby's dishes with a sponge that I also sometimes use to scrub peanut butter out of Tupperware containers, so ... score, I guess?
posted by uncleozzy at 7:07 AM on February 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


I don't think it's a matter of whether you use the sanitize cycle in asmuch as it is that dishwashers are far more thorough in their wash than those by human hands. I guess you could arguably hobble the dishwashing cycle by doing things like running shorter cycles with cold water and little to no detergent, but I'd imagine even with that it still does a longer wash job than human hands.

I'd think a good compromise is avoiding anti-bacterial soap/detergents, then hand washing dishes and toys for baby most of the time.
posted by Karaage at 7:07 AM on February 25, 2015


dishwashers are far more thorough in their wash than those by human hands

I dunno. A dishwasher is much more likely to leave food debris on "clean" plates than I am.
posted by smackfu at 7:10 AM on February 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


Interesting. Many daycares and some schools ban peanut products anyway, to avoid causing a reaction if anyone does have an allergy.

Ye can have me dishwasher when ye pry it from me cold, dead cabinet.
posted by zarq at 7:11 AM on February 25, 2015


It's rather amazing how many nutritional guidelines that I was taught are now being turned completely over. Butter is back and so are eggs, for instance.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:13 AM on February 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


yeah, my family has them all beat. We just eat off dirty dishes.

more seriously: a friend of mine has a toddler, and her toddler was eating Cheerios (that the child had spilled) off the (not terribly clean) floor. I said, "Hey, is it okay if she's eating off the floor?" and my friend answered, "Ooh, she's cleaning up! that's good." She's a healthy, happy kid still.
posted by jb at 7:14 AM on February 25, 2015 [30 favorites]


It's rather amazing how many nutritional guidelines that I was taught are now being turned completely over. Butter is back and so are eggs, for instance.

Obligatory.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:15 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I dunno. A dishwasher is much more likely to leave food debris on "clean" plates than I am.

Food debris is one thing, but I think it's more the boiling hot temperature and the extended length of the wash/dry cycle that does it.
posted by Karaage at 7:15 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I look forward to not using a dishwasher becoming the latest avenue for upper-middle class competitive mom-shaming, followed by all of this advice being replaced by totally contradictory advice in ten to fifteen years.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:16 AM on February 25, 2015 [71 favorites]


Has anyone done a study on the frequency of allergies in children who eat their boogers? I'm asking for a friend.
posted by Poldo at 7:17 AM on February 25, 2015 [24 favorites]


It's always stymied me that we have so many peanut allergies here, while in Israel they start giving Bamba and other peanut snacks to babies from at least 6 months - if this study is right, suddenly that doesn't seem as contradictory.

As for the dishwasher thing? You can also avoid allergies by getting hookworms. Some allergies I may be okay with.
posted by Mchelly at 7:17 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Being poor and not having a dishwasher is finally paying off!!!!
As is being an idiot father and feeding her cheerios right after I messily eat PBJ.
Finally!!!!!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:18 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'd think a good compromise is avoiding anti-bacterial soap/detergents

Kids or no, I don't think we should use anti-bacterial anything unless there's a specific need.
posted by Jpfed at 7:19 AM on February 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


We avoided peanut products for a couple years, as was the style at the time. My son has a peanut allergy. Whom do I sue?

As for sanitizing dishes and stuff, the kid crawls around on the floor all day spitting yogurt out of his mouth, chomping on anything that gets in his way, crawling around where the cat just walked after burying poop in the litter box, and then the kid sticks his fist in his mouth and blows snot bubbles. But yeah, make sure you get every last chunk of Cheerios off his food bowl and sanitize that shit like you're about to perform surgery with it.

Just do your best, avoid whatever "they" suggest you avoid during the "keep them alive" phase of their young lives and they'll be mostly fine. Usually.
posted by bondcliff at 7:19 AM on February 25, 2015


To avoid an allergy to dogs, avoid hand washing and have a dog lick your dishes clean.
posted by FallowKing at 7:20 AM on February 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


I wonder what effect dishwasher residue has on human health. I don't have a dishwasher at home, but at work there is always a soapy residue in glasses when I first fill them. I've taken to rinsing everything first. Soap/chemicals can't be the greatest thing to ingest on a regular basis.

With nutrition, I do not understand how there are so many instances where scientists debate between a theory and its exact opposite. You'd think we'd be directionally accurate by now on the things that matter, such as human health, and just fine-tuning the details.
posted by mantecol at 7:21 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope everyone ditches their dishwasher so that I can get one cheap and not have to keep washing nine million fucking dishes every god damn day.
posted by Ferreous at 7:21 AM on February 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


FallowKing: "To avoid an allergy to dogs, avoid hand washing and have a dog lick your dishes clean."

"Are these dishes clean?"

"Clean as three rivers can make them."

"Are you *sure* these dishes are clean?"

"Clean as three rivers can make them."

...

...

"Here Three Rivers! Here boy!"


/Cub Scout skit, ca. 1980
posted by notsnot at 7:23 AM on February 25, 2015 [35 favorites]


I don't have a dishwasher at home, but at work there is always a soapy residue in glasses when I first fill them

Isn't that like a stereotypical thing about European hand dish washing? That they don't do a good job rinsing so clean dishes taste soapy.
posted by smackfu at 7:25 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


In a larger irony I've discovered in my adult life that I'm allergic to dishwasher rinse aid of all things. After not having a dishwasher for over a decade and finally getting one in my renovated kitchen imagine my dismay when I found drinking out of anything that came from the dishwasher would cause my lip to swell up like a sausage.

Now that we've stopped using rinse aid those symptoms have mostly gone away, but it definitely gives me pause to introduce more detergents and unnecessary surfactants to the things i use daily.
posted by Karaage at 7:26 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Handwashing dishes is associated with new parents being even more overwhelmed and tired than they already are, thus snapping at their kids more, which I believe, without any empirical evidence, is bad for them.
posted by escabeche at 7:28 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


My father was in the Foreign Service, so I was born and grew up in postwar Tokyo and then Bangkok, neither exactly an antiseptic paradise. I must have been exposed to every kind of filth and pathogen in existence (Japanese men were notorious for pissing right in the street), and all my life I've been healthy as a horse, which I attribute on the basis of pure anecdotal evidence to that upbringing. Let your kids roister in the muck, parents!
posted by languagehat at 7:30 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm worried that people will start feeding babies peanuts as a result of this one study, something they wrote themselves is probably not a good idea.

Quoting from the NEJM article itself:
Approximately 10% of children, in whom a wheal measuring more than 4 mm developed after they received a peanut-specific skin-prick test, were excluded from the study because of concerns that they would have severe reactions.
I.e., one in ten kids were probably already highly allergic and were excluded from the trial. The final paragraph also says:
In the meantime, we suggest that any infant between 4 months and 8 months of age believed to be at risk for peanut allergy should undergo skin-prick testing for peanut. If the test results are negative, the child should be started on a diet that includes 2 g of peanut protein three times a week for at least 3 years, and if the results are positive but show mild sensitivity (i.e., the wheal measures 4 mm or less), the child should undergo a food challenge in which peanut is administered and the child's response observed by a physician who has experience performing a food challenge. Children who are nonreactive should then be started on the peanut-containing diet. Although other studies are urgently needed to address the many questions that remain, especially with respect to other foods, the LEAP study makes it clear that we can do something now to reverse the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy.
posted by ianso at 7:30 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Has anyone done a study on the frequency of allergies in children who eat their boogers? I'm asking for a friend.

There was actually a spate of pop-sci haha articles about this a couple years ago! Example. They were mostly an excuse for news sites to make use of photos of people with fingers up their noses rather than actual studies, though; it seems to be something that was theorized rather than tested in any way.
posted by Drastic at 7:31 AM on February 25, 2015


It's always stymied me that we have so many peanut allergies here, while in Israel they start giving Bamba and other peanut snacks to babies from at least 6 months - if this study is right, suddenly that doesn't seem as contradictory.


According to a friend of mine who works in a similar field of research, a big part of this study came from looking at cross-country allergy rates and noticing that, among other things, Jewish children in Israel are way less likely than Jewish children of the same age in the UK to develop peanut allergies, a fact which they ultimately attribute largely to the ubiquity of Bamba.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:31 AM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


I only hand wash my dishes with natural, sustainably harvested sea sponges, because I just care a little more about my kids than most people, you know?
posted by indubitable at 7:33 AM on February 25, 2015 [19 favorites]


I hand-wash a lot of baby feeding things because the dishwasher sometimes leaves krudgy bits of food residue on them that I'd have to wash off anyway, so I guess I don't have to feel bad, at least? Also, the cat likes to sleep on the changing table and the kid likes to stick his hand in my nose. World's best parent right here.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:37 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's rather amazing how many nutritional guidelines that I was taught are now being turned completely over. Butter is back and so are eggs, for instance.

THIS. How about working to solve things like world poverty, instead of inventing problems that don't exist?
posted by Melismata at 7:39 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I only hand wash my dishes with natural, sustainably harvested sea sponges, because I just care a little more about my kids than most people

Yes, and guess which gender of parent will be doing most of the hand-washing going forward? I bet we'll discover that washing clothes, sheets and diapers in the washing machine is also too sanitary.
posted by Frowner at 7:42 AM on February 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's amazing that any of us that were alive before the internet are still alive today. How's it possible ?
posted by garacer at 7:43 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


You'll eat a peck of muck before you die, my great-grandmother used to say.

I wonder what she meant.
posted by Segundus at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2015


So does anyone know how the recommendation got added in the first place? Did the APA have a bunch of studies that clearly showed that giving young children peanuts caused their allergies? Or did they just take something that was a hunch and elevate it to doctrine? That seems like the big question to me.

Also, this shows how application of The Precautionary Principle can have seriously bad consequences.
posted by Harvey Byrd at 7:46 AM on February 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's rather amazing how many nutritional guidelines that I was taught are now being turned completely over.

I think we should avoid thinking that 'everything is different now!'. The general advice is "eat lots of fruit and vegetables: don't eat too much: do some exercise: don't drink too much: don't smoke". This is rigorously supported by population studies and has been the standard advice for decades.

Everything beyond that - more fat, less fat, fructose, allergies - should be taken with a strong pinch of salt. People are complex.

We should avoid confusing poor journalism ("X gives you cancer!") and profit-seeking marketing ("Studies show you should consume this produce we sell!") with the general public health message, which has always been more balanced and simpler (and harder to follow: it's easier to take one kiwi fruit a day than exercise more...)
posted by alasdair at 7:48 AM on February 25, 2015 [30 favorites]


To avoid an allergy to dogs, avoid hand washing and have a dog lick your dishes clean.

When I had a beagle, it was his job each night to rinse the dishes before they went in the dishwasher. Besides any health benefits this might have for humans, I felt like having him do chores really taught him a sense of responsibility.

I guess I'll have to get a new beagle before having any kids.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:51 AM on February 25, 2015 [26 favorites]


Many daycares and some schools ban peanut products anyway, to avoid causing a reaction if anyone does have an allergy.

And to avoid lawsuits.

So, what was old is new again?
[anecdote] Back in the dark ages, when I was a little kid, I can't recall anyone at my school having peanut/nut allergies. None of my playmates did, anyway. Everyone ate peanut butter almost every day thanks to the school lunch service, and it just wasn't a thing. Also, we were filthy, dirty kids. We dug in the ground, rolled in mud, ran through streams, etc. etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


I seriously do not understand the peanut allergy thing. I get that it's possible to have this allergy, but does that mean kids in the past were dying from undiagnosed, or incorrectly diagnosed peanut allergies?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


does that mean kids in the past were dying from undiagnosed, or incorrectly diagnosed peanut allergies?

It's likely that environmental factors have contributed to a higher incidence of this and other allergies, which is why you have research like that in the FPP.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:02 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I read that, and I get that the sensitivity may be increasing from environmental reasons, but wouldn't there still have been an awful lot of peanut deaths back when practically every kid (in the USA at least) ate peanut butter pretty much as soon as they started consuming solid foods?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:05 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Handwashing dishes seems like a lot to ask.

Hilarious. I am not upper-middle class, a mom, or even very competitive, but I hand wash all of my dishes. I did it mostly even when I had a dishwasher. It's not the time or labor intensive, especially if you wash them as you use them (which I fail at most of the time...I am also quite lazy).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:07 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I seriously do not understand the peanut allergy thing. I get that it's possible to have this allergy, but does that mean kids in the past were dying from undiagnosed, or incorrectly diagnosed peanut allergies?

It's complicated, and likely multi-factoral. Allergy rates are going up - and I'm a proponent of the hygiene hypothesis being a large part of this. But yes, kids did die. I had an elderly acquaintance who was diagnosed late in life with celiac disease, and came to realize that celiac was probably the reason she had lost a child who failed to thrive a half century earlier.

Also, allergies are not always, or even usually immediately life threatening (but there's no way to know which one will happen, and it's best not to take that risk). But kids learned to avoid foods that make their mouth itch, or have unpleasant gastrointestinal results.
posted by fermezporte at 8:07 AM on February 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Do kids with peanut allergies have major reactions on first consumption? Or could you potentially just give them a tiny bit of peanut butter, stand there with the benadryl in hand just in case, and see what happens?

I'm glad there's finally an upside to not having a dishwasher. I rinse my dishes really carefully but I know three people who learned to wash dishes and put them straight into the dishrack, without rinsing at all! It's a thing. I've always wondered how common it is.
posted by kitcat at 8:08 AM on February 25, 2015


Do kids with peanut allergies have major reactions on first consumption? Or could you potentially just give them a tiny bit of peanut butter, stand there with the benadryl in hand just in case, and see what happens?

It all depends. My parents gave me peanut butter when I was about a year old, and nothing. The second exposure, a much bigger dose, at 18 months, caused anaphylaxis. Luckily we were right next to the hospital. Allergies are weird. Sometimes they get better with age, sometimes they get worse. Some fade away completely, some appear for the first time when you're 20. If you don't have a family history of allergies you're probably safe from anything life-threatening. If there is a history, then the advice above about getting skin prick tests seems like a great way to go.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:13 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I ate dirt when I was a kid. I was breast-fed.

I have never found ANYTHING that I'm allergic to. I don't even get poison oak.

YMMV
posted by Repack Rider at 8:14 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hand-wash all of baby muffins' bottles every day because the top rack of our dishwasher is always full, I don't want to run it every single day, and also our dishwasher leaves crud on the dishes. I'm sure that means we're garbage people who aren't maintaining the machine properly but I'm more or less okay with that. I don't feel hand-washing is a tremendous burden by any means. The bottles get a good soak in scalding-hot soapy water, a scrubbing with a bottle brush, and an air-dry. It takes all of 7 to 10 minutes, not counting soaking time. I can't even remember the last time I sanitized them though, and these findings make me feel somewhat better about it I guess?

I still sanitize his toys every so often with a hand-held steam cleaner though. And I'm way too scared to try offering him peanuts in any form.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:14 AM on February 25, 2015


You shouldn't feed any sort of nuts to a baby, there is a choking hazard.
posted by Renoroc at 8:14 AM on February 25, 2015


I developed an allergy to birch fruits when I was around 14. Everyone thought I was making it up (who ever heard of being allergic to apples?) till my brother developed it a few years later. Seconding "allergies are weird."
posted by Mchelly at 8:15 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, we faithfully boiled our bottles AND the water for the formula for 8 months. Is this not necessary? If not, I might dispense with some of my reluctance over having another child!
posted by kitcat at 8:17 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


They say that in the report, Renoroc. They don't recommend whole nuts.
posted by asok at 8:18 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why didn't dad and mom feed me mold and tree pollen when I was child? I could have been free of these darn allergies.
posted by Area Man at 8:24 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


The dishes in our house are as clean as cold water will get them.
posted by alms at 8:26 AM on February 25, 2015


In the meantime, we suggest that any infant between 4 months and 8 months of age believed to be at risk for peanut allergy should undergo skin-prick testing for peanut.

How does one determine if an infant is "at risk" for peanut allergy? family history?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:27 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cold Water and Three Rivers should have a play date.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:29 AM on February 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Let them eat dirt.
posted by billder at 8:29 AM on February 25, 2015


I have friends who have children and a dish washer who do all of their dish washing by hand. This is because dishwashers arguably take more time than hand washing. Their argument is as follows:

Dishwasher:
Rinse and scrape all plates so they are visibly clean
Stack everything in dish washer, carefully so that nothing gets damaged and everything gets cleaned
Run dishwasher
Empty dishwasher and put everything back in the cupboards and drawers, checking for things that haven't been cleaned properly
Clean the things that the dishwasher messed up on
Stack on the rack or dry with tea towel
Put them away

Hand washing:
Wash everything as you are preparing the meal and then the dishes afterwards
Stack on the drying rack
Put things away when dry or wipe dry with tea towel

They share the cooking and washing up duty and the children want to join in.

If you have a drying cupboard then the hand washing sequence is even shorter.

I really want a drying cupboard (with nicer doors than the one in the photos).
posted by asok at 8:30 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


We had a dishwasher when I was growing up.

There were many dishes that the dishwasher, for various reasons, wouldn't wash: too delicate, sharp, wrong type of plastic, etc. So hand wash those. Then the dishes that were eligible to go in had to be pre-hand-scrubbed and rinsed anyway; any dish that came through dirty was always my fault, not its.

So the dishwasher enjoyed all sorts of exemptions, had other people doing its work for it, and was never held accountable. I think we'd all love to have a job like that.
posted by kurumi at 8:33 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Child of the seventies, here. I was one of three very grubby outdoor children. No major allergies for any of us. We all get kind of snotty for a week or so in the spring (the week during which the lake has a thin yellow-green scum on it from the pollen and so do all the car windshields -- we reside on five hundred acres of mixed-oak forest) but it's not a dealbreaker. I would still give our upbringing and its rather lackadaisical approach to germs and allergens two thumbs up.
posted by which_chick at 8:39 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I recall that the automatic dishwasher was developed because the servants were breaking so many dishes while washing them by hand. The sanitary aspect was not mentioned then, and I assume that this is a sales point for dishwashers now, as with so many consumer improvements of the 20th century.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:48 AM on February 25, 2015


I was breastfed and ate dirt as a kid too. We didn't have a dishwasher. Still had tons of allergies. Do these things. But know its still luck of the draw. Allergies are indeed weird - you can develop them at any time in your life, and they can go away any time too. Don't think you are immune.
posted by agregoli at 8:48 AM on February 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


more seriously: a friend of mine has a toddler, and her toddler was eating Cheerios (that the child had spilled) off the (not terribly clean) floor. I said, "Hey, is it okay if she's eating off the floor?" and my friend answered, "Ooh, she's cleaning up! that's good." She's a healthy, happy kid still.

My sister has two dogs and one of them licked my niece clear across the face. Her response? "Yeah, sometimes they lick her."

I like that relaxed example and I intend to follow suit.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:50 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Semi-grubby 70s kid. I had allergies as a kid (nothing medically serious, just runny nose type stuff) and then largely grew out of them in my late teens. I cannot remember ever hearing of anyone claiming they had a food allergy. And I remember my grandmother a few times eating little bits of raw chicken while she was chopping it up, which nowadays is considered an offense against God.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:51 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


more seriously: a friend of mine has a toddler, and her toddler was eating Cheerios (that the child had spilled) off the (not terribly clean) floor. I said, "Hey, is it okay if she's eating off the floor?" and my friend answered, "Ooh, she's cleaning up! that's good." She's a healthy, happy kid still.

Yeah, we've formalized this a little more with our toddler: there's floor-food, and non-floor-food, each of which has its own separate rules around consumption. Floor food is OK at all times, as long as it's not within half an hour of a meal, and not after nighttime tooth-brushing. It's also subject to random inspections, as my daughter has an unbelievable talent for squirreling away perishable food items in between couch cushions, and then retrieving it days or weeks later to merrily chow down on. Non-floor-food (what you high-falutin' bourgeois types would call "food," I guess) is eaten when dispensed by mom or dad.

Floor-Cheerios probably make up 60% of her total Cheerio intake. Someday, science will study this girl, either for her superhuman immune system or as patient zero in a horrible world-ending plague.
posted by Mayor West at 8:55 AM on February 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


I thought this was old news. I tried to google, but it is probably so old that the internets weren't up and running.

I have hay fever and some cross-allergies normally related to hay fever, plus what was a originally a very serious allergy towards MSG (no headaches - bad asthmatic reactions).

The thing is that the MSG allergy has been with me since birth - and was a huge problem all those years no one knew what it was about - conventional wisdom was that you can't be allergic to a salt. I don't know why I am allergic, but eventually, I have learnt to avoid industrial MSG, I homecook everything, and today I can eat parmesan cheese and thin thai soy sauce without severe reactions.

BUT the hay fever didn't hit me before we moved from the country to the city. Imagine all these years I had been playing in grassy fields, and I loved horses and went to riding school, and the second summer after we moved to the city, I suddenly had hay fever.

For this reason, when I read about a Japanese study which showed that relatively more people had pine-pollen allergy in the cities than in the pine-woods, I thought the question was answered - some allergies develop from lack of exposure to allergens combined with pollution. I think I read about this some 20 years ago.

Obviously, it doesn't explain my weird MSG allergy, and it seems to me there must be some genetic disposition involved.
posted by mumimor at 8:55 AM on February 25, 2015


This discussion dovetails nicely with this previous thread on "science vs. anti-science."

A lot of people in my Facebook feed responded to this story by basically saying, "See? This is why it's so hard to trust science!" and I think that gets at what's really going on at the root cause level beneath some of the nastier social and cultural problems we see these days.

People do not have an easy time correcting their beliefs when new information challenges their existing, preformed beliefs. We know this from many studies (decent summary here from Mother Jones, though you'd be forgiven for thinking MJ has an agenda) that have held up over time. The fact that we find it so difficult strongly suggests it's pretty stressful to change our beliefs very quickly and radically.

And yet, now, we're exposed to new information with the potential to challenge our beliefs at a pace and on a scale that's never been seen before in human history. That's got to be stressful and hard to do very well, regardless of what other ideological commitments we might have--in other words, regardless of what we think should be ideal about communication and information, the reality is, the human brain might not be adapted yet to the kind of world we're now making and increasingly living in. It's harder than ever to keep our facts straight, with all the different ideas, marketing pitches, and other kinds of novel information constantly vying for our attentions now. Is it any wonder these changing cultural dynamics are creating new kinds of challenges and having destabilizing effects on our social reality?

It's harder than ever to sort the wheat from the chaff now, there's so much of both constantly pouring down on us in our daily lives.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:58 AM on February 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Floor food is OK at all times, as long as it's not within half an hour of a meal, and not after nighttime tooth-brushing.

I've basically changed the 3s rule into "as long as you don't leave the room" rule i.e. it would be gross to come into the room, see food on the floor, and then eat it. But if you're there when it falls, well, that's clearly still ok.....

... because I am a philistine.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:01 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wanted to prevent peanut allergies, so I fed my kid while wearing a giant Mr. Peanut costume. That sucker was hot and, come to think of it, really poorly made. I had to shout to get him to hear me and because I cut the eye holes unevenly I ended up jabbing him in the face with the spoon as often as the mouth. "Don't cry! Daddy's here!" I'd shout from the depths of the suit, looming really close so he could make out the words, as I tried clumsily to wipe the peanut and tears from his face with my scratchy, padded glove. He'd just cry harder, especially if I stumbled and knocked over his chair.

On the plus side, he doesn't have a peanut allergy so much as a peanut phobia now.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:02 AM on February 25, 2015 [40 favorites]


My pollen and cat allergies completely vanished for an entire year while I had a problem with recurring Infectious Mononucleosis. I think the Hygiene Hypothesis is on the right track but based on my own experience I prefer to think of my immune system as an obnoxious busy body that is best handled by giving it something harmless to do ( closer to the deliberate intestinal worm infection crowd). Not that I do that. Yet.
posted by srboisvert at 9:03 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Like languagehat above my father was in the foreign service (although not for the U.S. government) and I grew up in South America exposed to all kinds of who knows what playing in the dirt and eating random street vendor food, catching some interesting infections as well as parasites along the way. I have none of the common allergies, other than being allergic to cats - we never had cats as pets - and sweet potato leaves, which was not part of our diet and not any of our relatives' tables. When I later mentioned to my mother the allergic reaction I had to a sweet potato sprout banchan I encountered at a Korean restaurant, she responded she'd always had that reaction too, but had never bothered to bring it up because it wasn't a Korean banchan one encountered regularly.
posted by research monkey at 9:03 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hated peanut butter as a kid (and still do) so almost never ate it willingly. I have no issues with peanuts now. So maybe this will help, but maybe it won't.
posted by tommasz at 9:06 AM on February 25, 2015


(Just to provide a counter-argument to the "oh, hand-washing dishes isn't so bad" business) : I actually hand wash all my dishes and I sure would like a dishwasher. My family got one when I was about fourteen and I remember quite well how much easier everything got, even with having to scrub a couple of pans every night - this is particularly true because I was the one with primary dish responsibility, and I know for a fact that it was a lot less work after the dishwasher. Perhaps dishwasher quality has declined since the nineties, but we really did not have trouble with food not getting washed off the dishes or baroque stacking patterns needed to keep things from scratching. I've been doing all my dishes by hand for all of my adult life; it would take about five minutes to load a dishwasher and it definitely takes longer than that to wash things in the sink. But alas, I have always lived in old, old houses and/or had more pressing financial concerns.)
posted by Frowner at 9:07 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I developed an allergy to birch fruits when I was around 14. Everyone thought I was making it up (who ever heard of being allergic to apples?) till my brother developed it a few years later. Seconding "allergies are weird."

Me, I'm severely allergic to birch pollen and have oral allergy syndrome so can't eat any of the associated fruits raw (including apples). Everyone thought I was making it up too, even my doctor mother because she's not an allergist and it wasn't till I saw one in my 20s that the connection was made.

We had birch trees growing in my yard all through my childhood so I had lots of the pollen exposure before the allergies developed. I'm also allergic to grass and that's everywhere. Allergies are weird and they suck.
posted by zutalors! at 9:09 AM on February 25, 2015


I rolled around in farm muck and we didn't even own a dishwasher until I was in my late teens. I'm allergic to everything under the sun. C'est la vie.

My daughter's pediatrician recommended avoiding eggs until her first birthday claiming that studies have actually shown a correlation between early consumption of eggs and egg allergies. We'll see.
posted by lydhre at 9:31 AM on February 25, 2015


I didn't know the "ban" on peanuts was to age 3. I've been giving my girl peanut butter since she turned 1. We've been giving her egg yolks since she was 6 months, and whole eggs since, again, 1. We hand-washed all her bottles because the dishwasher would warp or not clean them enough.

So, uh, I guess we win at parenting bingo? Sweet.

I also don't really care if she eats things off the floor or sticks dirt in her mouth, but my husband gets a little squirrely about it. I would tell you this is all because I read an alternate health website or something, but the truth is I'm lazy and she's going to do it anyway, and then I figure I probably did the same, and whatever. The kid will survive.
posted by offalark at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


We've solved this whole problem by using peanut butter instead of rinse aid in the dishwasher.
posted by Kabanos at 9:45 AM on February 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Put the kids in the dishwasher. Problem solved.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:48 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll be 50 next month. I've never had a dishwasher as an adult, and I barely remember our family using the one we had when I was growing up. As a matter of fact, I think I've only used a dishwasher three or four times in the last, oh, 30 years. I like doing the dishes, I find it therapeutic, so I don't really care, but it seems strange that a dishwasher appears to be the one modern convenience that everyone but me has in common.


Semi-grubby 70s kid. I had allergies as a kid (nothing medically serious, just runny nose type stuff) and then largely grew out of them in my late teens. I cannot remember ever hearing of anyone claiming they had a food allergy


The peanut thing is interesting to me because the pendulum has swung from basically every kid living on PB & J sandwiches to peanuts being banned in schools, and I don't think a single kid I knew growing up had an allergy to peanuts or really any other food, either. I think I can recall one friend being allergic to shellfish, but that's it.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:58 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


As someone who grew up in the 80s with a severe peanut allergy and was the only kid in school with one, I feel like I bridged the gap between "give everyone peanut butter everything all the time" and "nobody can have peanut anything ever." The school nurse knew of my issue and had an EipPen at the ready. Other kids could have peanut stuff and I just... wouldn't? I realize that there are different degrees of severity, but my parents really drilled it into me that I was accountable for keeping peanuts out of my mouth/body, not other people.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm an 80s kid and remember kids having all kinds of allergies, but most common were strawberries and nuts, and one pair of sisters who were allergic to all corn products, which is how I learned at an early age how much corn is in American processed stuff (syrup, oil, etc).
posted by zutalors! at 10:06 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Curious, though, (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates:

Were you sensitive to foods processed on the same machinery as peanuts? Or that even had "trace" amounts of peanuts? Because I see those labels all the time and think kids must be dropping like flies these days.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:07 AM on February 25, 2015


Were you sensitive to foods processed on the same machinery as peanuts? Or that even had "trace" amounts of peanuts? Because I see those labels all the time and think kids must be dropping like flies these days.

Yes. M&M's, for example, were off the list, and anything cooked in peanut oil. But you can smell a lot of it. Sometimes I would eat a cracker or something and feel my shoulders get tight and just stop eating it. But I'm just one guy with one set of allergies. I know that some have it worse. And there's a difference, to me, between "companies should label what is in their food" and "no food of x variety can enter this building."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:13 AM on February 25, 2015


I grew up in the 70s and 80s and did all sorts of playing outside too. Still have the allergies, although I'm fortunate to not have food allergies.

My son's first PBJ went fine. His second, he had hives with the first bite.

Oh, and the local honey allergy remedy is bullshit. People like to bring it up when I mention I have allergies. There's not a shred of evidence to support it, even though it sounds reasonable. Your doctor hates this one weird old trick!
posted by Fleebnork at 10:21 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, it just goes to show you that as a parent (or person), you just can't win. I have secretly attributed my child's mild peanut allergy to the fact that I ate peanut butter toast every day during pregnancy and while he was breastfeeding. I'm now absolved of any potential culpability, I guess.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:23 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing. 99% of this thread is trumpeting, and few parents of kids/people with peanut allergies.
I have a little personal knowledge of a child that went through pb allergy trials through Stanford University. The child never displayed an allergy and was never exposed to peanuts in daily life until after the trials. It happens his mother had the means and resources to take the child to an allergist pre-emptively, was told he had an allergy and qualified for these skin prick trials.
At the end, that mother watched her toddler eat an entire serving of Reese's pieces without breaking a sweat.
Allergy cured by exposure!

Having seen a peanut allergic reaction in daily life in a very allergic child, my heart would have stopped during that trial. It would be a breath holding big BIG deal to see an allergic child undertake that.
I doubt the media knows the difference.

So why the sudden laughs about pb baths? And righteousness about being able to eat pb in schools?
Hug your dishwashers and sponges, folks. Science has these things called paradigms. And parents are busy enough looking for that one wrong thing they did.. Probably while following directions.
posted by lawliet at 10:26 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think this has to be a parents only thread.
posted by zutalors! at 10:45 AM on February 25, 2015


> 99% of this thread is trumpeting

I think you mean "people discussing something in a perfectly normal way." It's called having a conversation.
posted by languagehat at 10:47 AM on February 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


Asok, your friends are doing it wrong. Please find my ammended procedure below. My additions in bold.

Dishwasher:
Rinse and scrape all plates so they are visibly clean
Stack everything in dish washer, carefully so that nothing gets damaged and everything gets cleaned
Put stuff in dishwasher just however. (This is no more work than put stuff in sink, which your friends omitted).
Run dishwasher
Open dishwasher after it runs and rattle racks. This takes ten seconds. Shakes pooled water off of things with places for water to pool.
Empty dishwasher and put everything back in the cupboards and drawers , checking for things that haven't been cleaned properly. Leave anything not clean in dishwasher.

Hand washing:
Put stuff in sink
Wash everything as you are preparing the meal and then the dishes afterwards
Stack on the drying rack
Put things away when dry or wipe dry with tea towel

__________

I count four steps for dishwasher (2 of which take less than ten seconds) and four for handwashing. Each equal or more work. And with the dishwasher your hands don't get all wet and icky.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:53 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Last year this study focused on the possible link between peanut allergies, gut bacteria, and the use of antibiotics. It was a small animal study, but I thought it was very interesting and struck me as consistent with everything I've ever read in mainstream, non-woo publications about the dangers of overusing antibiotics. It would be a sad irony if the parents who use so much of the antibacterial products to try to protect their kids from diseases are unwittingly making their allergies worse.
posted by gatorae at 11:01 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


if you read a lot of books set in older times, children got "sickly" and died quite frequently. i think that if you were allergic to a standard food item - wheat, peanuts, dairy - it doesn't necessarily always present as anaphylatic shock. you just end up not getting the nutrients you need and kind of waste away for no apparent reason.

Holy heck! I feel like a good portion of all those old books I've read that always have a character of "frail" constitution make so much more sense now! How many more little siblings and spouses would have survived for want of an allergy test.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


And righteousness about being able to eat pb in schools?

I hope this wasn't in reference to my matter-of-fact comment that PB & J was the most common school lunch when I was a kid. Growing up I personally did not eat PB & J so there was no "righteousness" in my pointing out that back then most other kids did.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The school nurse knew of my issue and had an EipPen at the ready.

Part of the problem right here. In my public elementary school (35 years ago), the school nurse only came in twice a week.
posted by Melismata at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always thought the whole "children are delicate flowers who must only be exposed to foods on a rigid schedule" was nonsense, and have only thought it the more as the US became allergy city while the rest of the world, including ones where peanuts are basic staples, did not. Apparently some people were even demanding that pregnant women not eat peanuts? Bonkers.

Feed your kids what you eat as they are physically capable of eating it.
posted by tavella at 11:06 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Part of the problem right here.

Sorry, I'm not following -- part of the problem of what? I don't feel like a change in the number or school nurses or EpiPens has affected allergy rates, but if there is a thread connecting them I'd be interested to hear the theory.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2015


The full comment: "As someone who grew up in the 80s with a severe peanut allergy and was the only kid in school with one, I feel like I bridged the gap between "give everyone peanut butter everything all the time" and "nobody can have peanut anything ever." The school nurse knew of my issue and had an EipPen at the ready."

The problem is that we now have a (perceived to be) ridiculous policy stating that due to a few kids' allergies, nobody can have peanut anything ever. I'm interpreting you to mean that this issue could be solved if only there were school nurses around with epipens, and I'm saying that due to budget cuts, school nurses aren't around much any more.
posted by Melismata at 11:13 AM on February 25, 2015


Oh. Well, when the nurse wasn't in they gave me the EpiPen to carry around. My point wasn't that the nurse had to handle it, just that it was in the school somewhere if I needed it. And at the risk of making this thread about me and my singular experience, I'll step back from commenting and listen to what others have to say.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:20 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


So we shouldn't have bought that autoclave then I guess...
posted by gottabefunky at 11:36 AM on February 25, 2015


Holy heck! I feel like a good portion of all those old books I've read that always have a character of "frail" constitution make so much more sense now! How many more little siblings and spouses would have survived for want of an allergy test.

Yeah. My kid has bizarre, counter-intuitive, wide-ranging food intolerances (fructose stuff), and I talk with people who are like "Wow, we never had any of these food allergies when I was growing up! I never heard of such a thing, people are such special snowflakes now!" I'm like "Really? Because if you look at women's magazines from the middle of this century, they are CRAMMED full of ads for products for 'dyspepsia,' which is medical speak for 'my digestion is all messed up.' And if you read books written in the previous century, you can't throw a rock without hitting a character with a 'weak stomach.' I think we just have better diagnosis methods now."
posted by KathrynT at 11:41 AM on February 25, 2015 [26 favorites]


Wait, we faithfully boiled our bottles AND the water for the formula for 8 months. Is this not necessary?

No, not according to our hospital. Three years ago when we went to our Baby Care class the nurse leading the class said it's totally not necessary and she feels bad that so many exhausted parents waste all that time boiling bottles and baby paraphernalia. I realize you'll probably get different answers depending on who you ask, but I trusted her advice.

Two different health professionals (our pediatrician and a lactation consultant) advised that the latest research showed no benefit or reason to holding off on introducing any particular foods, including peanut butter (barring choking hazards). We started giving it to our son when he was around 6-7 mos. Also our current daycare provider has no restrictions on peanut butter and we are allowed to send it for his lunches. Just to add to the pile of anecdotes.
posted by JenMarie at 11:51 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


My oldest son (10) has a severe allergy to peanuts. We first gave him peanut butter at 11 months after asking our doctor if he was ready, and he ended up in the hospital overnight. It was pretty scary. There was plenty of peanut butter in our household prior to that incident though, as we were vegetarian at the time and peanut butter is delicious .

Our second child (6) has grown up in a peanut-free household but has no food allergies whatsoever. Chows peanut butter whenever he can at other people's houses.

Obviously individual results may vary, but my feeling is that there may be several different things that may explain the increase in food allergies over the past 10-15 years. I hope that the science becomes solid enough that some useful public health recommendations can be made.
posted by dweingart at 12:00 PM on February 25, 2015


I have mentioned in other threads that I have had a lifelong peanut allergy. I was born in 1959. My mother had been warned that peanuts could be problematic. When I was around 1, she spread some leftover PBJ that was on the knife she'd used to prepare my older brother's sandwich on a cracker and handed it to me. She went to wash the knife in the sink (by hand) and when she turned back to me, I was sitting there with my lips swollen and my face covered in hives. Off to the doctor. We had various pets and didn't have a dishwasher until I was a teen.

No accommodations were made for me in school, etc. it was up to me to police my food, contact, etc. Because my reaction was so swift and severe, I learned to take the tiniest nibble of any new foodstuff and wait for a reaction. Sometimes just touching it to my lips was enough.

As a younger adult, I traveled a lot and had to teach myself to not touch my hands to my face (or eyes!) until I could wash them because of folks wiping their hands on the armrests after eating the airplane peanuts.

I have lots of other environmental allergies and some other food allergies so see allergists with some frequency. Once, when I went to a new one (he had a practice and taught in LA) I went through the usual skin tests. I asked him not to test for peanuts as I already knew that one would be bad. He did it anyway (claimed his nurse made the "error") and my reaction was so spectacular that he asked if he could take photos to share with his students. I let him, though in retrospect I shouldn't have rewarded his rotten behavior.

I am grateful that many airlines have just stopped serving peanuts and that more products have labels if they've been made on shared equipment (yes, I can have a reaction--usually not strong and not every time--so I generally just avoid those products). I am also grateful to my good friends who make every effort to avoid eating/making peanutty things when I'm around. I'm also not shy about asking for accommodation (i.e. no peanutty things in meetings I'm attending).

So, I don't believe exposure would have helped in my case--but the study acknowledges that. Now I have so many bad associations with peanuts that I am repulsed by them and even if I could be assured of no allergic reaction, I don't think I would have any interest in eating them.
posted by agatha_magatha at 12:11 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


We have a dishwasher that fell into utter disuse after my mom came to live with us. She lived most of her 70 years on earth in Shanghai and is openly hostile towards this device, (while long embracing other household appliances modernity has to offer). My stroke of genius was to move the top shelf of dishwasher out and start to use it as a drying rack, because it's hard to find drying racks that can accommodate pots and pans, and drying pots with tea towels is just a bridge too far.
posted by of strange foe at 12:15 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now I have so many bad associations with peanuts that I am repulsed by them and even if I could be assured of no allergic reaction, I don't think I would have any interest in eating them.

This has been my experience with shellfish. It was always the protein that screamed "RED ALERT" on my skin prick tests growing up, but when I was in my mid-20s I got a RAST test and it was determined I had no sensitivity to them at all -- either I never did (and they were confusing it with a sensitivity to fish, which I still have), or I outgrew it. That was about ten years ago and I still can't bear to eat shrimp or lobster, simply because it's not enjoyable to consume something that in the back of your mind you think might kill you. And I can identify with your story about the doctor taking a picture of your reaction. That happened to me with avocados; when my forearm started to swell, the allergist asked the nurse to get the camera. When it kept swelling, he ran out of the room and came back with the other four doctors in his practice and the rest of the nurses. #AllergyStories
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:27 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Since I posted, I suffered a strong reaction from my dinner - pasta carbonara. I suspect the pancetta contained MSG. Luckily, I threw it all up, so I am good now.

IMO there is no doubt that some people develop allergies, regardless of the circumstances. But I also believe we can diminish or even avoid allergies by protecting our children from pollutants and maybe also by breastfeeding.
posted by mumimor at 1:10 PM on February 25, 2015


But I also believe we can diminish or even avoid allergies by protecting our children from pollutants and maybe also by breastfeeding.

The best (and, perhaps worst) thing about reality is that it doesn't really care what anyone believes.
posted by bondcliff at 1:14 PM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


the best (and, perhaps worst) thing about reality is that it doesn't really care what anyone believes.

Totally, which is why I am very focused on scientific results in this field..
posted by mumimor at 1:27 PM on February 25, 2015


If only I had a penguin...
I am not sure I understand why my hand washing friends need to put everything in the sink. I am pretty sure when they wash up they clean one thing at a time rather than putting them all in the sink at once. Is that what you are suggesting? Washing up gloves also exist, not that they use them.

Personally I have never used a dishwasher that didn't require plates, bowls and glasses to be stacked. Often glasses just don't fit in at all, but YMMV.
posted by asok at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2015


I dunno. I also grew up in plenty of filth and exposed to everything and letting the dogs wash my face, but when I first had allergy testing (in my 20s) the doctor said it would be quicker if we just talked about what I'm *not* allergic to. Funny thing about skin tests, though: my reaction to peanuts on that was described as "mammoth" by one nurse (and it's repeatedly been positive, since I made them retest on all nuts a few years ago), but I've always just about lived on peanuts and have never had the slightest problem from them. The allergist gave me the go-ahead to keep on eating them, under the circumstances (I would have, anyway). It does make me wonder a lot about the false positive rate with testing, though.
posted by dilettante at 2:44 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have never had a dishwasher. Sometimes I think I would like one, but the two of us wouldn't fill it enough to run it every day so it would take 3-4 days to get enough dishes in it to justify the water and power use. And going from my experience with the dishwasher at work, in that time the dishwasher will turn into an enclosed stink factory which will gross out the entire kitchen every time its door is opened.

As for handwashing, I have noted that people who handwash dishes fall into two groups. One group dumps several things in the sink at a time and works through them, while the other stacks the dishes on the sink, puts them into the water one by one and then rinses each dish separately either in another sink or under the tap. I was taught to wash up the first way, which was probably the result of growing up in a drought-stricken country and having only tank water which often ran low. It grosses out some people, who think we must get awfully sick from the "dish soap" we ingest from soap-coated dishes. I don't believe that happens. The small amount of dishwashing liquid I put into a full sink of water, and then the minute amount of residue that might be left on them after washing, doesn't seem to make us sick. I prefer that to the aforementioned enclosed stink factory. And if you have to rinse and scrape first, what's the point of the dishwasher? You're practically washing them yourself anyway.
posted by andraste at 3:57 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


And adding to the lovely and useless pile of personal anecdotes, both my partner and I grew up playing in the dirt a lot (living on farms). He is allergic to nothing as far as we know, and I have only ever suffered an allergic reaction to one thing: a Sausage and Egg McMuffin, which gave me hives which lasted several days.
posted by andraste at 4:04 PM on February 25, 2015


Also, allergies are not always, or even usually immediately life threatening (but there's no way to know which one will happen, and it's best not to take that risk). But kids learned to avoid foods that make their mouth itch, or have unpleasant gastrointestinal results.

Moralizing about pickiness always bothers me for this reason. When I was a kid I was picky. Turns out I'm prone to food allergies, some of which are quite serious.

I think it's reasonable for schools and/or classrooms to ban peanuts if there's a severely allergic kid there. Some kids react from touching something that another kid has touched, so it's not like these kids (who are tiny and young and silly because they're kids) are simply dodging their personal responsibility. They can't help it.

Some people have an inordinately difficult time realizing that people can react to something without purposefully eating it. I used to get serious reactions from cross-contamination on a regular basis. And I'm a grownup.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:21 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


(also, my parents were big bleach-it-until-it's-dead over-sanitizers, but my sister has no allergies or asthma, while I have both)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:23 PM on February 25, 2015


My grandmother's method of hand-washing involves two sinks full of water (with dishpans), one soapy, one clear. At least, it starts out clear. By the end, it's got about as much soap in it at the first one. I don't really get it, but I think it's the conservation urge that also has her washing her foil and re-using it. I have a basin of soapy water and then rinse things individually under the tap, which uses more water but I've never had anything come out soapy at all.

The thing about dishwashers isn't just the heat, it's that dishwasher detergent typically has bleach in it. Of course it's going to kill germs and most everything else. My dish soap doesn't have bleach in it, so things are going to get "clean", but not with the same level of guarantee that every possible microbe has been nuked. I think that probably has a lot to do with it. It's not that washing things is bad. It's that disinfecting absolutely everything all the time is bad.

I actually have come to prefer the hand-washing, although I might not if I had a whole bunch of kids. With just me, I have a whole set of drying mats, and one bamboo rack. The rack I mostly use for stuff like cups. Pots and pans go on the mats, which later will get hung up or, if I've left them long enough, just folded and put back away. That way, any flat surface in my kitchen can help with drying, and I don't hand-dry much of anything, and I never worry about whether I have space in the drying rack. But if you've got 2+ people so that someone can be drying, the whole thing can be done without much but silverware ever touching the rack. (Even my grandmother rarely hand-dries silverware.)
posted by Sequence at 4:29 PM on February 25, 2015


Sequence, I keep a small spray bottle with a diluted bleach solution right next to the soap dispenser. I'm absolutely not a germaphobe but I do tend to break down and cook a lot of raw protein and I feel much better about really bad germy-germs. This method does require the use of dish-washing gloves, which I hate and give me the heebie-jeebies, but the trade-off is worth it.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:01 PM on February 25, 2015


Why didn't dad and mom feed me mold and tree pollen when I was child? I could have been free of these darn allergies.

yea, if only my parents had fed me cats...
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:13 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Filthy mothers for the win! Blog me, tweet me, pin me; today, I am a winner. For a small fee, you can send your kids to my house to lap it up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


the cat likes to sleep on the changing table

My cats loved the changing table because it was so warm from the little wipes heating mat I got as a shower gift. It turned out that Babyamaro did not care if his buttwipes were warm or cold, so the mat was moved into a cat bed where many years later it remains in faithful service of warming the undersides of cats.
posted by jamaro at 7:17 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have only ever suffered an allergic reaction to one thing: a Sausage and Egg McMuffin, which gave me hives which lasted several days.

Should have started eating them earlier!
posted by escabeche at 7:27 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel confident that there are PLENTY of germs in my house even with using the dishwasher. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it. If anyone wants to bring their kids by to lick the doorknobs or something, just shoot me a PM.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:39 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


yea, if only my parents had fed me cats...

I can remember occasionally snacking on leftover pieces of dry cat food out of the cat's dish, which I am sure the cat had licked after cleaning its anus. If my brain is not fully colonized by those cat parasites it would be a miracle. (On the plus side, I don't have allergies or sensitivities other than mild hay fever, so maybe there was an immune system benefit.)

I love my dishwasher and would never willingly give it up. Working remotely has meant handwashing dishes when I am not at my own house, and that is a constant dislike for me. I am plenty unhygenic in other ways (and in fact have extensive dirt and pathogen exposure through work), so I see the dishwasher as a pure, unadulturated good in my life.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:20 PM on February 25, 2015


Asok, unless you eat and prepare food over the sink, the dishes need to be transported there, no different than transporting to the dishwasher. And yeah, the dishwasher manual has all sorts of diagrams for how to arrange your dishes. Maybe that will prove useful if I ever have a dinner party for exactly 12 people and use exactly 12 dishes, cups and glasses of each kind and nothing else (no food prep dishes). However, if you're not trying to look like the manual, I find that sticking things wherever there's an empty spot works just fine. If stuff ends up awkwardly placed so it pools water, that's what rattling the rack is for.

And yeah, I only run my dishwasher every 2-4 days, as someone above suggested. I live alone, so it just doesn't fill up that quickly. Curiously, it actually doesn't seem to get nasty. In fact, a few months ago I meant to run the dishwasher before going on vacation and forgot. So I asked jb who was going to water my plants to please run the dishwasher when she came to do that. Well, fast forward a week and jb comes to water my plants and either missed that part of my message or forgot it. I was dreading what I would find when I came home to a dishwasher full of 3-week-old plates, but you know what? When I opened the dishwasher and they were just regular old dirty plates. No mold, nothing. I assume it's because the dishwasher is air tight and was closed the whole time? Anyway, they came clean in a single regular cycle wash.

So hurray for dishwashers! I'm going to start throwing a peanut in with each load, just to counterbalance the risks associated with not handwashing. I'm sure it will be fine.

On exposing kids to things: When I was a kid I used to eat raw chicken. When my mom made shaken bake, I'd steal the bag afterwards and eat the powder and any chicken bits in there. I am alive, thankfully, but my point is that while generally I'm in favour of exposing ourselves to stuff, there's no need to go all crazy and start eating raw chicken or handwashing dishes.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:49 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I too should have been fed cats. Surely they are more pleasant than my first ER intubation at age 3 after spending 10 minutes in my aunt Janice's house? She even put their one cat in the garage a couple of hours earlier and vacuumed, but nope.

I can't help but wonder how many of us severe allergy sufferers have been princess-and-the-pea-tested by a well-meaning friend. You food allergy folks ever get told your symptoms were psychosomatic? "Here, sleep on this pillow," she said. (It was totally the cat's pillow; they were really contrite when they found me halfway out the front door, crawling for air with both eyes swelled shut and wheezing like an asthmatic mini-tornado siren.)

Not their dander, mind you. Their saliva. When we begin engineering saliva-free pets, I will finally get my own hypoallergenic critter to cudfle! (And it's all animals, not just cats; horses and dogs only cause large patches of hives and not anaphylactic shock. Yay?)

I was raised on rural farmland in the 70s and have no food allergies, at least. But the other allergies and asthma combined really suck.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:52 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unicorn on the cob: I thought dander was dried saliva. I would have thought wet saliva would be pretty easy to avoid. How did you find out what part of the cat you're allergic to? I'm allergic to cats -- not anaphylactically, but enough that I could never have a cat -- I wonder if knowing what part of the cat was triggering the allergy would someday help me find a cat I could tolerate.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:07 PM on February 25, 2015


Hairless cats is how; also extensive skin-prick testing, 3 times as a kid.

Dander is not actually dried saliva -- it is skin flakes, similar to dandruff, that have been shed from an animal onto surfaces or have become airborne. Also, I never really had issues with animals that do less, um, grooming and/or licking (see: horses, which I rode frequently as a kid; I also herded cows as a kid). Played with dogs and even briefly lived with a poodle, which I could tolerate better than other breeds for whatever reason. And avoiding cat saliva is easy, you say?

What cats have you seen that DON'T lick every inch of their bodies 3x per day? (Most dogs, too, though they don't seem as double-jointed as cats are in the "must reach every nook and cranny" department.)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:35 PM on February 25, 2015


Or could you potentially just give them a tiny bit of peanut butter, stand there with the benadryl in hand just in case, and see what happens?

Benadryl does exactly nada if you're going into anaphylaxis though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:09 AM on February 26, 2015


It doesn't do EXACTLY nada. I was having a social conversation with a pulmonologist (about peanut allergies, coincidentally) who mentioned offhand that if you have a known exposure to a serious allergen, you should take like 6 benadryl and call 911; the Benadryl won't stop the anaphylaxis, but it will give the paramedics 15 or 20 extra minutes to establish an airway. I'm not a medical professional so I can't evaluate that for soundness, but it seems legit.

(We were talking about a 12-year-old with a peanut allergy who had accidentally eaten something with peanuts in it, thrown up as part of the allergic reaction, and then aspirated the peanutty vomit, absolutely WRECKING her lungs in the process. She lived but it was a long crappy time in the ICU, and an even longer time in pulmonary rehab.)
posted by KathrynT at 10:45 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Benadryl does exactly nada if you're going into anaphylaxis though.

I was actually told by an EMT friend (who might have been totally wrong!) that in an emergency situation with no better options nearby crushed up benadryl (or with the capsules broken open) was a way to attempt to keep someone able to breath until better help could arrive. Maybe this isn't the case, but I always carry some benadryl anyway because I worry. ( For safety's sake, I emphasize that the EMT did NOT say that benadryl could substitute for real treatment.)
posted by Frowner at 10:46 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Benadryl does exactly nada if you're going into anaphylaxis though.

Is this true? I was told it might help if you have no other options &/or it'll be a little bit before the EMTs arrive.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:54 AM on February 26, 2015


My allergist told me that. He's an MD and PhD; I trust his judgement.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:57 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to keep chewable benadryl on hand and those dissolving benadryl strips in my pocket. Now I just carry epipens everywhere, which is cool, because they are like distilled 80s nerd stereotype. Huge, ugly, and plastic. Whee
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:26 AM on February 26, 2015


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