Soy's Role in the Peanut Allergy: What European Mothers Already Know
Given that just this week, Newsweek’s cover is Kids and Food Allergies: The Growing Food Allergy Threat and the Today Show told Emily’s Story, we wanted to highlight, as we did in our April 2007 newsletter, the role that soy plays in the development of peanut allergy and the danger that soy’s cross reactivity presents to people with peanut allergy and asthma.
As many of you know, soy is one of the top eight allergens. What you may not know is that a child with a peanut allergy can have an allergic reaction after eating a food that contains soy, according to the Mayo Clinic and the Asthma and Allergy Resource Center.
Soy’s Role in the Food Allergy Epidemic
In 1996, soy was engineered to contain new proteins, chemicals and toxins so that soy crops could withstand the spraying of industrial weed killer. 90% of soy is now engineered with these new proteins and chemicals, which created new allergens . These new allergens are similar in their amino acid structure to known shellfish and peanut allergens.
How could soy cause an allergic reaction in my child with peanut allergy?
In scientific terms, soybean allergens are “homologous” to known peanut allergens and are recognized by 44% of peanut-allergic patients.
What that means is that a child with a peanut allergy can have an allergic reaction and even go into anaphylaxis after eating soy. Because this cross-reactivity is rarely mentioned in the press, many parents are unaware of the potential health risks that soy may present to children with peanut allergies.
What are the Signs of a Cross-Reaction to Soy and How Can I Protect My Child with Peanut Allergy?
According to Dr. Yman, PhD of the Swedish National Food Administration, these deaths initially appear as an asthma attack, with no or very mild symptoms for the first 30-90 minutes after consumption of foods containing soy (much like Emily’s Story). Then, the children suffer fatal asthma attacks. “If your child is allergic to peanuts, you should consider eliminating soy as well as peanut from your child’s diet, even if your child has never reacted to soy poorly in the past (as Emily never had). Some sensitive children have “hidden” soy allergies that manifest for the first time with a severe – even fatal – reaction to even the low levels of “hidden” soy commonly found in processed food products. Those at the highest risk suffer from asthma as well as peanut allergy”.
What products contain soy?
In Europe and other developed countries around the world, soy is rarely used since it contains chemicals, toxins and new proteins whose safety has never been tested in human trials. In the United States, soy can be found in soy milk, soy formula, conventional formula, tofu, soy sauce and other soy products. Soy is also used in many processed foods, as soy lecithin, soy lectin, soybean oil and other soy derivatives by the United States food industry, despite being banned in foods around the world (in Europe, where consumers have not embraced genetically engineered soy, lupine is often used in place of soy, given that 90% of soy has now been engineered to contain these new chemicals. However, please note that a child with a peanut allergy can have a severe reaction to lupine, given the similarities in protein structures, so consult with your child’s doctor when traveling abroad).
Soy is also commonly used as animal-feed in livestock in order to expedite the weight gain in livestock, ensuring a faster time to market and heavier fish, pork, cattle, etc.
It is only within the last ten years, since soy was engineered with new proteins, chemicals and toxins in an effort to make it a more profitable agricultural crop and commodity, that soy has become one of the top eight allergens.
Are there other facts that I may not know about soy?
According to Daniel Sheehan, PhD and director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) National Center for Toxicological Research, soy-fed babies are taking part in “a large, uncontrolled and basically unmonitored human infant experiment.”
The British Dietetic Association now warns parents to avoid soy formula given a the results of a 2003 study conducted by Dr. Gideon Lack from St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College, London, UK. The French Food Agency will soon require warning labels on all soy foods, soy formulas and soy milk so that consumers will be aware of the risks that soy poses to children under the age of three, as well as people with hypothyroidism, and women with a family history of breast cancer.
In January 2006, the American Heart Association reversed its endorsement and position on soy.
What’s an American Mother to Do?
It looks like what you don’t know, CAN actually hurt you…and your babies! So until the federal government decides to bestow the same value on the lives of the American children that government agencies around the world have bestowed on the lives of their children, American mothers might want to take a cue from mothers in the UK, Europe, Asia, Japan and even Russia and consider avoiding exposing their little ones to soy.
If the system is failing our children, moms can’t!