The food we feed our children…food allergies double in past 5 years.

FOOD ALLERGIES – BUT WHY? 

For those of us who have children living with moderate to severe and even life threatening food related allergies, we know all too well the challenges associated with this condition.  Others may have close friends, relatives, co-workers' children or students who may be allergic to as little as one food or up to six or eight!  The most frequently asked question after I mention to someone what my child is allergic to is, "Why does she have all these allergies?"  It is a natural question to ask and for the most part, the medical community refuses to admit what the possible immediate causes may be and is on the whole, very wishy washy on providing any solid 'theories' and reasons on why so many children today are afflicted by food allergies, which are on the rise.  Anytime I have provided possible causes or reasons why I as a parent conclude what may be a cause, they grudgingly agree, saying that 'all of those reasons can contribute to the causes, but there is no one single reason why, and none are conclusive at this stage….'

                          Egg Carton                            Do other eggs come from hens fed with stimulants?

Milk Carton Text                      rBST is a bovine growth hormone. Most milk you buy contains rBST and antibiotics given to cows which are potentially harmful ingredients.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE & LEARNING: 

My daughter, now five is afflicted by several food allergies (milk, peanuts, tree nuts, certain fruits), asthma, allergic rhinitis, food allergy related diarrhea, and pollen/environmental allergies.  While we now feel that she may be outgrowing her milk/dairy allergy, she still has a severe contact reaction to peanuts and sesame (common ingredients in Chinese food).  She develops intense itchiness if she consumes coconut, kiwi fruit, canteloupe, (no longer bananas now!), green beans, or some undeclared ingredient in a packaged food and often times from ingredients which are not clear, like 'arificial flavors' and the like.  I can say with full confidence now, that I am an accomplished and zippy reader of ingredient labels on packaged foods.  Living with food allergies and making sure our daughter is not exposed to her allergenic foods is naturally challenging, but not impossible.  There are those who suffer from foods which are more frequently present almost ALL foods (corn (starch), wheat (gluten), eggs).  For many, the ingestion or even contact for some can trigger mild to life threatening reactions, which range from itchiness, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, exema to the most dangerous and possibly fatal, anaphalaxis.  Anaphalaxis, or closing of the airways, leads to loss of breathing as the throat muscles constrict and don't allow the individual to breathe.  Unless an epinepherine injection (aka:adrenaline shot) is administered almost immediately, it could lead to death. 

As the years have gone by, and we have managed to provide our daughter with a safe food environment. It became more challenging as she grew older, more independant and entered the school system, where the parent's watchful eyes and control are not always around.  We do our best to educate and communicate with those she spends time with (teachers, care givers, her friends and their families, relatives…) and tell them how important it is for them to be watchful and double check what they give her or ask us before they offer her anything.  She has 'safe snack' lists, medication which travels with her at all times and has also developed her own self defense mechanism, asking from the ripe old age of three and a half, 'Nana, did you read the ingredients in…"__" ?'

I often think about how other children and parents cannot understand the full scope of what all goes into planning for our daughters day to day life.  The challenges of raising children is tough enough.  Our son, (#2), fortunately does not suffer from any (known) allergies at age 1.5 years.  To not have to worry about what our son puts in his mouth, reminds us again of how different our daughter's life is.  But with passage of time and advanced planning, it eventually becomes second nature.  This takes me to my oft asked question – Why does my daughter have all these allergies?  Why are kids living in other countries (where our families are from, for example), like South Asia, not afflicted by food allergies at this high indidence level if at all?  The incidence of food allergies in Asia, Africa, and to some extent even Europe, are significantly much less or non-existent.  This just makes wanting to know the real reasons causing food allergies to develop in children in the Unites States even greater.  Recent studies (and anecdotal evidence) are now saying that food allergies are on the rise and have in fact doubled in the past 5 years. Is there something rotten in these [United] States….?

THE STUDIES, THEORIES AND THEIR FINDINGS:

It boils down to heredity and genes is what most in the medical field suggest as reasons why people develop allergies.  Genetics is absolutely a qualified marker for explaining why certain people are more prone to allergies, like many other diseases and conditions which highly correlate genetic predisposition to possible emergence of that same condition down the road in another direct member of that family.  While that may be the case, it still does not explain why the incidence of food allergies in particular, are on the rise, and notebly more so in the past five years.

The December 2003 study of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, states that the rise of peanut allergies in children increased two-fold over a five year period from 1997-2002: 

"Scott H. Sicherer, MD, and Hugh A. Sampson, MD, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, along with Anne Muñoz-Furlong from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), conducted a cross-sectional telephone study of 13,493 people using a standardized questionnaire. The study assessed rates of peanut and tree nut allergies over a period of five years.

Participants were asked a series of questions regarding allergies and seriousness of reactions. Prevalence rates were similar overall to those in the initial study. However, it is significant to note that reported peanut allergy in children increased two fold from .4 percent in 1997 to .8 percent in 2002, since this type of allergy typically develops in childhood and is usually not outgrown in adulthood.

Based on these facts, one could predict that the number of peanut and tree nut allergies may grow larger over time.

According to Dr. Sicherer (assistant professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City), 'It seems in the past two decades, we have seen a significant rise in all types of allergic disease such as asthma, hay fever and food allergies and, therefore, there are more children at risk for severe allergic reactions…' "

Reasons cited for the increase in allergies in children, included early exposure to peanuts at a younger age when the immune system had not developed fully.  This does not however explain why the doubling of incidence was not present 10 or even 15 years ago, when parents still most likely introduced peanuts and peanut butter at the same early ages.  The reasons for this increase have to lie in a more scientific explanation.

 

Another study released in The Journal of School of Nursing in October 2004 reiterated the growing trend of the rise in food allergies in children as reported by school nurses.  The study, conducted by The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), reported that,

"…[sixty] 60 percent of the school nurses reported an increase in elementary-age students with food allergies in the classroom over the last five years. Ninety four percent of school nurses reported having at least one child with food allergies in their school. More than one third of the nurses indicated that they had 10 or more students in the school with food allergies, and 87 percent stated that, compared with other health-related issues, food allergies among school-age children is somewhat or very serious."

The facts clearly indicate that food allergies are certainly more prevalent today and that is futher evidenced by the sheer number of people one may know who's children have food allergies.  I can count at least 8-10 people whom we directly know either well or as an aquaintance, who have children with food allergies.  They range in geographical location in the US and by ethnicity.  Caucasians, South Asians, East Asians are all part of our anecdotal sample. 

So why this rise?  There are several theories and to me, a few of them seem so obvious, it is alarming more people aren't up in arms about this issue. 

Genetically Modified Foods

There are those, who with much scientific certainty point the finger at the Genetically Engineered (GE) or Genetically Modified (GM) foods as causes for food allergies to develop.  A genetically modified food refers to any crop or produce where the genes of an organism are cut out and then pasted into another organism.  Genetically modified foods were developed for a variety of (primarily agribusiness) reasons so that the foods, crops and products would be disease resistant and no longer even need pesticides.  Increasing shelf life, creating a hardier, more lasting and prettier texture are all the magic of genetic modification of our foods.  Some estimates say that as many as 30,000 different products in our supermarkets are 'modified'!  Most processed foods contain soy, whereby up to half of North America's soy crop is genetically engineered.

While consumers in the UK and Europe have pressured manufacturers to stop using GM ingredients, North American food industry manufacturers continue their use – and there is no stop of this trend in sight.

So why are GM and GE suspect of being the culprits in contributing to the development and increase of food allergies?  The science behind splicing and dicing foods genetically basically centers around the protein element of that food, crop, vegetable, etc.  The proteins in foods are what trigger food allergies (ie: the milk, soy, peanut, egg (whites), shellfish, tree nuts, fish or wheat proteins).  The current list of GM food products intersect with the most common food allergens mentioned above.  The majority of the GM proteins being cut and pasted to create new mutant food genes, have NEVER been eaten by humans or even tested for their safety – but have nonetheless become a part of our daily diets over the past 8-10 years. 

The Supreme Court ruling in 1980 (Diamond v. Chakrabarty) triggered a whole new business for agriculture, allowing for the first time, the patenting of life forms for commercialization – the birth of the medical and agricultural biotech industry.  The race to claim patents on genes and genetically modified plants and animals has been ongoing since then.  According to Nathan Batalion, author of Americans for Safe Food, the GM ingredients started appearing in 2/3rds of all US products largely between 1997 and 1999.

"In just those three years, as much as 1/4th of all American agricultural lands or 70-80 million acres were quickly converted to raise GM crops. Yet in most other countries, the same approach is subject to moratoriums, partially banned, restricted or requires labeling – and with stiff legal penalties for non-compliance. This refers to laws in Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Austria, Portugal – or in virtually all European nations. The same trend has further spread to Latin America, the Near East and Asia."

[2000 Nathan B. Batalion, Published by Americans for Safe Food. Oneonta, N.Y.]. 

Some exerpts from In Motion Magazine provide additional insight into the use of GM foods by large agribusinesses and the potentially harmful affects these foods can have on human health:

Here are a few (click here for the full eye-opening report)

Food Allergies

In 1996 a major GE food disaster was narrowly averted when Nebraska researchers learned that a Brazil nut gene spliced into soybeans could induce potentially fatal allergies in people sensitive to Brazil nuts. Animal tests of these Brazil nut-spliced soybeans had turned up negative. People with food allergies (which currently afflicts 8% of all American children), whose symptoms can range from mild unpleasantness to sudden death, may likely be harmed by exposure to foreign proteins spliced into common food products. Since humans have never before eaten most of the foreign proteins now being gene-spliced into foods, stringent pre-market safety-testing (including long-term animal feeding and volunteer human feeding studies) is necessary in order to prevent a future public health disaster. Mandatory labeling is also necessary so that those suffering from food allergies can avoid hazardous GE foods and so that public health officials can trace allergens back to their source when GE-induced food allergies break out.

Unfortunately the FDA and other global regulatory agencies do not routinely require pre-market animal and human studies to ascertain whether new allergens or toxins, or increased levels of human allergens or toxins we already know about, are present in genetically engineered foods. As British scientist Dr. Mae-Wan Ho points out "There is no known way to predict the allergenic potential of GE foods. Allergic reactions typically occur only some time after the subject is sensitized by initial exposure to the allergen."

Damage to Food Quality & Nutrition

A 1999 study by Dr. Marc Lappe published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that concentrations of beneficial phytoestrogen compounds thought to protect against heart disease and cancer were lower in genetically modified soybeans than in traditional strains. These and other studies, including Dr. Pusztai's, indicate that genetically engineering food will likely result in foods lower in quality and nutrition. For example the milk from cows injected with rBGH contains higher levels of pus, bacteria, and fat.

[from: Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods and Crops: Why We Need a Global Moratorium: Ronnie Cummins, Little Marais, Minnesota]

While GM foods are believed to generate a whole other host of health ailments, with regards to it's contribution to food allergies, it cannot be ignored as a very possible and pervasive cause.  Especially given the years when GMs first penetrated the agribusiness and our grocery stores, the next 4-6 years after that (2001, 2002) is when experts began to see the increase in food allergies in children. What we ate before getting pregnant, how our genes processed those modified foods during pregnancy and what was passed on to our children in utero can be attributed to those beautiful, unnaturally large, fresh looking, thick skinned, non juicy, non sweet oranges (tasting horrible) that sat around for 2 weeks, as if it still looked like it was just picked yesterday!  Foods 'organically' grown in most European and Asian countries don't look or taste ANYTHING like the fruits and vegetables in the United States.  Perhaps that is another reason why the rates of incidence of food related allergies are so few in those parts of the world – they do not have fruits labled as "[USDA] ORGANIC". The foods they buy at the market are naturally organic, picked directly from the farms untouched by biotechonology.  There is no such 'other' non-organic alternative. Bananas turn brown in 2 days (not seven) and are not 8-10 inches in length, but their natural size of perhaps 4-6 inches!

Hygiene Hypothesis:

Another reason cited as a cause for possible immune intolerances, leading the body to not be able to differentiate between the 'good' and 'bad' substances entering the body, is the hygiene hypothesis.

Increased cleanliness, the use of antibacterial wipes, lotions and constant hand washing of children even as they burry themselves in the local playground's sandbox, are all reactions to the horribly infectious world we live in!  Yet, there are many who believe that not being exposed to enough bacteria can hamper the body's natural instinct to respond and develop immunities to the 'bad stuff' out there.  That especially in highly developed countries like the U.S., people are losing the ability to fight off certain diseases – they have no natural immunities.  In order to harden the body's natural immune instinct, the immune system needs to be stimulated (like a muscle which isn't exercised, it cannot really become stronger).  Some even go far as to saying that if a newborn was administrerd any antibiotics in the first 2 days of birth to stave of a potential infection, that that dose could have possibly had a detrimental affect on body by killing off the gut's (intestines) natural 'good' bacteria or 'flora'.  Antibiotics are a strong immuno-suppressant which may be needed to kill off infectious and deadly bacteria, but damage immunities.  Good bacteria like acidopholis found in yoghurt, is essential to keep the intestine working properly develop a healthy immune system.

The following article captures the link between allergy increase and the 'hygiene hypothesis' quite effectively:

[Click here for full article in Star-Telegraph.com, January 31, 2006: "Rise in kids' allergies is troubling", Bruce Taylor Seeman].

An allergic reaction occurs when the body mistakenly identifies something as an invader and activates a portion of the immune system. People with hay fever, for example, over-react to the inhalation of pollen. The same process occurs in food allergies, with protein acting as the trigger.

In someone allergic to peanuts, for example, the body senses a specific protein has attached to cells in the body. To "protect" the cells, it sends out special antibodies called immunoglobulin E, or IgE. When IgE reaches the cells, it causes them to release histamines and other chemicals that may cause itching, nausea or restricted breathing.

In trying to explain the increase in allergies, many scientists have embraced the "hygiene hypothesis." It holds that some people's immune systems have gone out of whack because America's increasing cleanliness has changed the behavior of IgE.

The central role of IgE is to help fight infections. But as America has become more sanitary, and as antibiotics have cut down on infections, IgE has less work to do, making it restless and prone to attack new things.

"The more [IgE] is left 'unbusy' because we're not being exposed to germs early in life, the more it could direct its attention toward allergies," said Wood.

Some data support this idea. Allergy rates are lower in many underdeveloped nations, perhaps because the immune systems of those who live there are constantly exercised.

There are numerous explanations for what may cause food allergies and why there has been an increase in food allergies in children in the past 5 years.  Genetic modification of the foods we eat are a very convincing reason for why people are reacting adversely in the form of rejecting certain foods – and all this has occured in the last 5-8 years.  When looked at collectively, it seems quite straightforward, and most likely it is that way.  We live in such an over industrialized, mechanical world of artificials and harmful environmental pollutants that something has to give. Sadly it may be our next generation of children, who are suffering at the hands of modernization, money making bio-technologies and hygiene paranoia.                                                                 

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13 Comments »

  1. michele hayward said

    WOW…what you expressed in your feb, 2006 article just solidifies all my assumptions and theories…and what is so aggravating is WE just have to sit and take it…you can’t beat CAPITALISTS money making agribusinesses because they live for today NOT for TOMORROW’S children!!…it’s real sad….i try my best to feed only ORGANIC to my child..and now have implemented ORGANIC food into my diet…but is the damage already done??? have i poisoned my child in UTERO unknowingly???…and how many others out there are doing the same, because we are left in the dark with GM hidden monopolies!!!…thanks for the information and allowing myself to believe in my own theories!!

  2. Jill DeLancey said

    I am quite impressed with this article! After learning a few months ago that my 6 month old had a severe chickpea allergy (after giving her hummus), I found out that she may have an increased risk of being allergic to peanuts (because it is part of the legume family). I feel horrible that what I ate during pregnancy and while nursing may have brought on her allergy. I have recently researched food allergies and heard that GM foods may potentially be to blame. Since then, my daughter eats mostly organic foods and we have started incorporating them more into our household. Thanks for the eye-opening article!

  3. To Michele & Jill:

    Thank you for reading my (lengthy!) post. I’m so glad someone out there is finding my words useful. Since I too have a daughter with multiple food allergies and having gone through the past 5+ years living and dealing with them, I hope I can impart some potential answers to so many questions.

    The most important thing do is to avoid the ‘known’ allergens and then only after conferring with your doctor/allergist, and the blood tests and skin scratch tests (I did them every 8-9 mos initially, then annually) and see if there still is a reaction. The last step is an ‘oral challenge’ in a doctor’s office, to see if a child has indeed outgrown a food allergy. Eating organic foods and keeping good track of ingredients and log it if you suspect any allergic reactions. Teach your children (and those who care for them) from an early age that they need to be careful about what they eat and always have an adult check ingredients. I am hoping my daughter will outgrow her milk allergy…with 5+ years of very strict dietary avoidance, she has some hope now.

    Again, do visit this very useful website: The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)- http://www.foodallergy.org/. As your children grow and enter the school years, it will be even more important for you to know how to deal with schools, pick the right ones and know your rights as well. FAAN is full of all kinds of great advice and information.

    Good luck to you!

  4. Grandma Linda said

    Are there any theories regarding the slow introduction of various foods to babies today? Seems that thirty years ago, my babies were starting on cereal by a month old and a variety of whatever could go down in baby food in the next 2 months. Today, advice is – don’t give them anything but formula until they are several months old. My logic on this is thus: When a child got an allergy years ago, an allergist would introduce small amounts of the substance so that the child could build immunities to the allergy. So what is the difference if we offer our kids small amounts when they are infants? To me it is a clear explanation. Anybody agree?

  5. Aisha PZ said

    Thanks for your comment GL.

    I do think things have changed a lot – when I was a baby, my mother gave us egg yolks and cereal from one to two months old onwards…But I think the advice has changed now because the composition of our foods, the environment and the unknown technologies used to produce our foods have dramatically changed in the past 30+ years. Because of GMOs, chemical pesticides, antibiotics in our meats and milk, etc., the foods some how are causing ill effects in the very young and most vulnerable. Thus the shift in the way we approach feeding infants now, I believe.

    I think there are so many ‘unknowns’ out there that depending on the specific medical situation, certain things may hold true. However, the medical research community has pretty much been consistent on showing the link between avoiding allergenic foods in order to hopefully rid the allergy in the long term for that individual. Staying away from eggs or dairy has proven to help children grow out of the allergy. What also may have seemed like an allergy, may have been an intolerance (where kids were just fussy or had a minor rash after eating something…but with time would become ‘tolerant’ to that food – so that could be what you had seen). A food Allergy is slightly different, where the body reacts to the protein of the food in quite a severe manner or even near death. In that case, avoiding the allergen would be the only option. The same theory is applied in non-food allergies, like allergies to dust, mites, dander, pets, etc. People need to avoid those items/situations in order to remain ‘reaction-free’.

    I value your views and I myself felt many times that if I slowly introduce the allergenic foods, perhaps she’ll become tolerant. Unfortunately, even when she accidentally injested the allergenic foods, we ended up in hospital. I think a great deal of medical research and evidence would be needed in order to change the current trend and recommendations the medical field provides to families with severe food allergies who belong to this new generation of children, exposed to the ills of the diseases of the industrialized world! Thanks again for writing in and reading my blog.

    APZ

  6. Sara said

    Thank you for your article. I am very impressed with the information, especially because I have a 5 month old with severe excema. We still don’t know what triggers the excema and what she is allergic to. But I always wonder why, and what did I do wrong throughout my pregnancy. Do you think that if I would switch to eating organic foods I can prevent my next child from excema? Also, I Was recommended to give my baby an acidopholis. Is it a good idea?

  7. Aisha PZ said

    Hi Sara,

    Thank you for stopping by and reading my entry/experiences. Sorry to hear that your daughter has such severe eczema.

    I am not very familiar with eczema per se, and it’s direct causes or what the best remedies would be. I’m sure your pediatrician, allergist or dermatologist (if you’ve not seen one yet, you may want to consult one) could provide more professional advice.

    What I do know and have learnt from other parents, is that eczema can be triggered by a whole array of foods and sensitivities to foods or food allergies. Dairy, Soy and Eggs seem to top the list as causes for their children’s eczema…Another child in my daughter’s school had severe eczema from birth onwards. His mother has an excellent website (and now blog) documenting her experience and how she helped her son overcome the severity of the eczema. It was detergent related…I would go to her site and get all the info: http://www.solveeczema.org/

    I hope this helps. Good Luck!

    APZ

  8. Gina Bettinsoli said

    For Sara whose daughter has severe eczema. If you are breast feeding, she may be allergic to the foods you are consuming which are being passed to her via your breast milk. This was the case with my son. He has anaphylaxis to dairy and peanuts. I would seek out an allergist and discuss this with your peditrican as well.

  9. Petro said

    hi, hi, hi! Beautiful site.

  10. ray nwam said

    Excellent article and site .your piece is a great resource to the online audience. Please when you have time check out my site with many articles like seasonal allergies http://allergieshelp.blogspot.com

  11. Al said

    Jill, from what I read there is no parallel between eating certain foods while breastfeeding and your child’s food allergy according to a recent study. So please don’t beat yourself up over it.
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h5yQVepXUH5Lunz6d2ec80wDiOAQD8U0R8T00
    Here’s something to ponder. I’m allergic to shellfish; my mom did NOT eat shellfish when she was expecting me or while breast-feeding me. We lived in Bahrain at the naval base then, and seafood was not easy to come by. Mom told me she had relatives send her boxes of canned tunafish back then, which she did eat while expecting me. Why did I develop a shellfish allergy then but not a seafood allergy (which would include tuna)? I didn’t even start eating shellfish until I was 3 when we moved back to the States.

    There’s more to food allergies then that; it’s never a clear picture.

    I like your article as it brings together two schools of thought in regards to the cause of food allergies, though I think you’re a little hard on GM foods. These foods are actually helpful for those with food allergies because it can remove the part the person is allergic to. There’s petfood available for dogs that does that with chicken (dogs are usually allergic to beef, chicken, maise, and a few other things), making a good temporary diet during food trials. Then again I also hate how others seem to be abusing this technology anyways for conveince or whatever. If you want bigger and better carrots, do it the old-fashioned way thru good husbandry practices and breeding!

    Speaking as an 25-year-old with a food allergy in addition to several other allergies and asthma, I wish you had also written more about the role of genetics in the development of allergies. Both my parents have allergies and so do many of my relatives (though I’m the only one with a food allergy). Part of the problem IS inherited; people are more likely to develop allergies if they have relatives (esp. parents and siblings) with allergies, though they may not develop allergies to the same thing. Allergies are abnormal immune responses to something, and the basic way your immune system works is inherited. However that does NOT mean the environment has no role at all because it most certainly does. Those predisposed to allergies are more likely to regard something as a threat. So goes the genetists’ point of view.

    Even so that does not explain the increase completely either. Even if we take into account that a couple had 3 children with allergies in the 1940s and each of those children had 3 children of their own with allergies in the 1970s who each in turn had 3 children with allergies, that’s still only 27 children today with allergies! That would only explain some of the increase.

    So what is happening? Perhaps not being exposed to germs enough does have more in this like you said. The immune system is designed for attacking harmful substances that we come into contact with. What is it supposed to do if we don’t come into contact with those things? Apparently it starts attacking nonharmful things and the body itself (some people feel that’s a reason for the increase in autoimmune disorders).

    Many parents don’t seem to want their kids playing in anything ‘dirty’ today. I remeber playing in the pluff mud of marshes (which are basically Mother Nature’s garbage dump, reprocessing plant, and recycling plant all rolled into one) as a kid, yet today the kids I babysit for look at me in shock if I suggest we play in regular backyard mud. It’s not that they don’t want to; it’s that they’re not allowed to. Unless their child has an immune disorder, I say parents should them get dirty every once and a while. Just encourage the children to wash their hands with regular soap (not antibacterial though) and other common-sense things (wear shoes outside, avoid strange animals and places where they go, etc.); most will be fine that way. Don’t keep them in a plastic bubble.

    While I can’t say for sure that those in under-developed countries have it better than us allergy-wise because these people also have to deal with infectious diseases and even nutritional diseases, ones already cured by modern science. Perhaps they just don’t have a chance to develop allergies, allergies are mistaken for something else, or those with undiagnosised allergies are simply more likely to die from diseases. Then again being constantly around TB, measles, et al. doesn’t leave the immune system much time for anything else.

  12. boundlessmeanderings said

    Al,
    Thanks for stopping by and adding your comments. As you indicate and agree with the whole ‘hygene hypothesis’ – that is definitely one indicator of possibly increased food allergies. In my piece, I do argue that genetics has a very high correlation to why certain people develop allergies and that it is a strong marker. My husband has some shrimp/apple allergies – hence my daughter having a basic pre-disposition to allergies – of any sort. His dad has only dust allergies (no food). So there is correlation, but why didn’t my husband develop severe allergies like my daughter? It’s the food, GMs, chemicals, pesticides etc. she was exposed to, in my opinion. We do realize that genetics does play a significant role, but that alone does not explain the higher incidence and prevalence of food and other allergies present people and our children today. Being exposed to diseases and basic germs does build immunity – so the body learns to adapt and recognize the ‘real’ harmful toxins floating out there, as opposed to reacting to foods like nuts, dairy and eggs which have been consumed by populations for 1000s of years without any real issue. There is a high correlation of people having food allergies also having asthma and ecxema – Asthma and Ecxema have also increased significantly in the past years – another reason to have to question the issue beyond just genetics.

    While the unknowns lurk out there, there are these reasons which have begun to explain and validate the question of why has the incidence of food allergies increased in recent years. We just need to keep pushing that envelope!

    You may find today’s article on Food Allergies in the New York Times interesting. Here’s the link http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/dining/09alle.html?em&ex=1200027600&en=7cc0c451f0ab650c&ei=5087

  13. tina said

    HI there,
    This is an awesome and informative article. I totally believe it is all the food contamination and excess use of chemicals as well as the OCD culture that we live in that is causing our children to have to suffer with food allergies and eczema. I am so frustrated at this because there is not much I can do to stop this foolishness and to protect my child. Sorry, it is upsetting and frustrating to know what is wrong but being helpless about it. It is hard enough being a mother, now you have to be a doctor as well because you never know what is going to pose a problem for your child. Just want to thank you for this wonderful article. Have you watched Food Inc.? That movie was an eye opener and I really wished I had watched it before having my baby.

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