Remember my fake peanut allergy? The one I thought I had for my entire life until one day I realized I didn’t? And I am really glad I do not have one because a real peanut allergy can be downright scary.
It turns out that we have a kid in our family with a real peanut allergy. Not just peanuts, either. He also cannot eat any tree nuts — no almonds, cashews, walnuts. It’s tough on a little kid not being able to eat whatever he wants — to always have to check the labels and ask an adult if its ok. His brother and sister don’t have this allergy and neither do his parents. So it is no wonder that his mom and dad are perplexed about where and how he got one.
So recently, during a little family get together, the question arose: could vaccines have caused the peanut allergy?
This was a new one for me.
Someone — a person who is apparently very educated and very internet savvy — showed these parents (equally educated and reasonable people) information on the internet about how some vaccines contain secret peanut oil. And this secret ingredient is alleged to be causing an increase in the number of kids with peanut allergies. According to this source who shared her wisdom with my sister-in-law, vaccines cause about 10% of kids to develop a peanut allergy. Wow. What? (Now, if I was still allergic to peanuts, I would have been in an all out panic that I had been injected with peanut oil, right?). And the parents were understandably upset and worried.
After putting the kids to bed, I naturally hopped right onto google and Pubmed to see what I could find out. Well, immediately, I was suspicious that this whole peanut-oil-in-vaccines-causing-peanut-allergies was anti-vaccine nonsense. Because when you google peanut oil and vaccines, you don’t get a bunch of links to reputable websites, like the CDC, World Health Organization, or American Academy of Pediatrics. You get links to anti-vaccine websites like “smartvax.com” and “naturalnews.com” and “vactruth.com.” And, if you do what I do for even a little bit of time, you realize that these groups are not trying to give a balanced look at vaccines. No. They are rabidly anti-vaccine — because lets face it, when you continue to push the vaccine-autism theory in the absence of any thing to support it and you blame vaccines for everything else, you are anti-vaccine. (I take no offense if you want to call me unapologetically pro-vaccine).
Nonetheless, I read on. I read what some of these sites said, and then I tried to figure out whether there was any truth to it at all. Basically, what these groups allege is that peanut oil is a secret ingredient used in the manufacturing of childhood vaccines. Because it is allegedly unlisted as an ingredient, its unclear to me how these people somehow know about it. None of them are vaccine manufacturers as far as I can tell, and I could not find any of them citing to research that demonstrated the presence of peanut oil in any vaccine or that this trace oil was linked to allergies. Their support for this theory of peanut oil in vaccines is absent. Kind of like peanut oil in vaccines.
You see, there is no peanut oil in any vaccines. How do I know? Vaccine manufacturers are required, by law, to disclose every single ingredient in every single vaccine — even if the amount actually present is so teeny tiny as to be essentially absent. If the vaccine manufacturers are willing and able to tell you that they used formaldehyde and bovine serum to create a vaccine (which sound scary, but actually are not), then why in the world would they feel the need to hide peanut oil as an ingredient. I mean peanut oil at least sounds pretty benign in comparison, right? Chick Fill-A proudly cooks their fries in it. It does not make any rational sense why anyone would fail to disclose peanut oil in vaccines — well, unless of course, there is no peanut oil in vaccines.
So where did this idea come from? Here’s what I can ascertain. There is something called an “adjuvant” used in some vaccines to make the vaccine more effective (ie, increase the body’s immune response to the vaccine). In the United States, the only adjuvant licensed for use is aluminum gel or aluminum salts. Peanut oil has never been licensed for use in the U.S. as an adjuvant in vaccines. However, in the 1960s, it was tested as a potential adjuvant in influenza vaccines to see whether it could increase immune response. But it has never been licensed for use in vaccines. And it is not used.
Look. People who don’t like vaccines or who don’t trust them are going to come up with a whole bunch of nonsense in an effort to make their agenda seem less crazy. But thinking that vaccine manufacturers are sticking peanut oil in vaccines, and then lying about it, and then assuming the CDC and everyone else is covering up for them or sticking their heads in the sand about it, well that is crazy. (Kind of like the people who think 9/11 and the Newtown massacre were ruses perpetuated by the government).
If you want to know the latest theory on why we are seeing more allergies, go look at this website from UCLA. Allergies may be on the rise because we use too many antibiotics, or because our homes are too clean (well, not mine), or because we have smaller families and are kids are less exposed to important microbes. (Research is showing that exposure to some organisms is actually necessary for humans to develop healthy immune systems).
Allergies, especially peanut allergies are no joke. But you can be sure they are not caused by a vaccine ingredient that does not exist in any vaccine in the United States. Of that I am certain.