Thursday, October 29, 2009
I'm reading this great book called Monique and the Mango Rains for my anthro class, and something in it caught my attention today. Monique is a midwife in Malawi, and one of her duties is teaching women in her village how to make baby food. Thing is, the baby food is peanut-based. This struck me as strange, because I've always heard that you NEVER give babies certain foods including honey and PEANUTS because they might have a food allergy. I'm not saying Monique is wrong, since she clearly knows more about babies than I do, I'm just confused. I wonder if there is any data on peanut allergies in African children, because I have a theory. American children are raised in pretty sterile, antibacterial environments, and it's been correlated with higher incidences of allergies. African children, at least children in rural Malawi are in almost the opposite situation. They have all kinds of other problems, but you don't hear about African children having severe allergies, possibly because they are exposed to so much they don't develop allergies. But maybe that's because they have malaria and life-threatening diarrhea, and failure to thrive and all kinds of bad things, so post-nasal drip isn't that big a deal. And babies who are fed baby food do much better than babies that are fed on porridge, because it's high in proteins and other essential nutrients and porridge is pretty much just carbohydrates. So maybe it's worth the occasional allergic reaction if it saves more babies than it kills. I know that not all peanut allergies are life-threatening, but peanut allergies tend to be severe, and I don't know how available antihistamines are in rural African villages. Bottom line-I love all of my classes. I want to bring this up in Nutrition on Monday. I also want to bring up the guy who lives on candy.