More on the recently released article in Pediatrics on the growing prevalance of food allergies –
In addition to being among the first to track the prevalence of severe food allergies, the new study also looked at issues its authors say raise more questions that require additional research to fully understand. They found, for example, that African-American and Asian children are more likely to have food allergies, but that white children are more likely to receive a diagnosis. The researchers also found that 30 percent of the food allergy sufferers suffered from multiple allergies.
But perhaps the biggest question the new study raises is whether or not food allergies are actually on the rise.
Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, a researcher at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai in New York and author of “Understanding and Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies,” says the study suggests they are, but cautions that a better way to determine that is to conduct a similar study over a period of time.
One possible explanation for any increase is the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that clean living, something Sicherer described as “smaller families passing around fewer infections and not living on farms with exposure to various bacteria,” results in our bodies attacking harmless proteins. He cited additional possible hypotheses, like changes in how foods are processed and whether or not babies are fed allergenic foods too early or too late in life.
But whatever the reasons, this new study suggests that the health impact of food allergies is real and troubling.