There was an article in the Sunday edition of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times by Metro Creative Connection about food allergies. It addressed the question, “Why are food allergies on the rise?”
The story noted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention indicated the “prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, and it continues to rise.
“The CDC estimates one in 13 children in the Untied States now have a food allergy.”
It also pointed out food allergies affect roughly seven percent of children in the United Kingdom and nine percent of children in Australia.
The story said a “number of agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are looking into the hygiene hypothesis, which is a link to western society’s obsession with preventing and fighting germs.
It was noted that being too clean might be leading to a rise in allergic reactions.
It went on to say, “Another theory is that the overuse of antibiotics and acid-reducing medications could change the microbiome of the stomach and digestive system, potentially resulting in health-related problems like allergies.”
It was also noted that “failure to introduce common food allergens to children early in life could set them up for a lifetime of food allergies … if parents introduce something into a young child’s diet, then the child is less likely to become allergic to it.”
One example was peanuts. One study showed in areas where there were a lot of peanut allergies the common reaction was to keep peanuts away from children. However, in other areas where peanuts were a staple food for children, the prevalence of peanut allergies was much lower.
What got me interested in this story is that the dates mentioned above (1997 to 2011) caught my eye due to the fact my daughters were eight and 10 years old in 1997.
I remember my oldest daughter was allergic to some non-food item, and we later determined pet dander (I think) was the culprit.
Also, our kids went through the normal sicknesses as children, and like their parents, they are rarely sick as adults.
Other than the time I was in the hospital for several days early in my working career, I can’t recall ever missing a day of work due to being sick.
I’m certainly no scientist, and I have no real knowledge about allergies, but from my experience there seems to be some validity to the “cleanliness” and “exposure of food to kids when young” reasoning.
I don’t ever remember cleaning up our kids like kids get cleaned up today. I don’t mean in terms of bathing each day, but rather the concern about eating something dropped on the floor, using hand sanitizers a lot more than we ever did, etc.
As far as introducing foods to children, my wife did that all the time. My mother did the same for me (even though I never understood the need for liver and beets, probably the only two things I won’t purposely eat today).
If more kids are getting allergies today than kids in past generations, some of the reasons given for that reality seem to make sense.
I’m sure at some point someone will blame it on global warming or President Trump.
There are two things I do know for sure.
First, I no longer have to worry about children’s allergies.
Second, I know the problem is real because Southwest Airlines no longer serves peanuts, and I now have to eat pretzels, which clog my throat, which makes me use acid-reducing medications, which … wait for it … may lead to allergies.
If I only knew what the heck a microbiome was I could block it and never have a stomach issue again.
Until next week, have a good week.
Mike Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.