Why are Kids Allergies on The Rise?
An Important Overview
(From Foods to Preparation for Spring)
© 2015 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
One in 26 U.S. children have food allergies -- up 18 percent in the past decade.
Food allergies among children have risen more than 18 percent from 1997 to date, causing more than a few raised eyebrows among researchers and health officials. The first federal study of the issue found that one in 26 children now have food allergies, compared to one in 29 in 1997.
In all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 3 million kids have food allergies, which occur when the immune system overreacts to a food it mistakenly believes is harmful. If your immune system determines, for instance, that peanuts are harmful, it will produce specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to peanuts.
The next time you eat that particular food, your immune system will release chemicals, including histamine, that are intended to protect your body from the substance. The problem is that these chemicals trigger an array of irritating and potentially very serious symptoms that can impact your respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin and cardiovascular system.
In fact, the number of children hospitalized for food allergies has also increased, according to the CDC. Hospital allergy admissions rose from 2,600 a year in the late 1990s to over 9,500 per year in recent years.
Yet, "food" allergies are not the only ones on the rise.
A national survey conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Institutes of Health found that more than 50 percent of Americans ages 6 to 59 were sensitive to at least one allergen. That's two to five times the rate found in a previous 1976 to 1980 survey.
Got Food Allergies? Get The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book!
For a complete guide on how to eat if you have food allergies and intolerances, check out the "Food Allergy Survival Guide Book". In it you'll learn:
How to avoid the foods and ingredients that trigger reactions
How to substitute healthful ingredients for those that trigger allergic responses
How to meet recommended nutrient intakes while avoiding trigger foods such as dairy products, eggs, gluten-containing grains such as wheat, or other food culprits
How to determine which food(s) may be triggers for your symptoms ... and much more!
Why are Allergies Increasing so Dramatically?
One theory is that parents and doctors are now more aware of allergies and their symptoms, meaning they're more likely to identify the problem.
"A couple of decades ago, it was not uncommon to have kids sick all the time and we just said 'They have a weak stomach' or 'They're sickly,"' Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, told CNN.
Yet, the increases are steep enough to suggest that something deeper is going on. Some potential causes of the emerging allergy epidemic include:
Over-sanitized environments and too many antibiotics (in food and as medicine). "We've developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past," said Marc McMorris, a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System, in Live Science. "As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies."
Air pollution. Diesel fumes, ozone and other common air pollutants are known to trigger allergies and asthma. As levels of pollution rise, so do allergies. In fact, according to a study led by Joachim Heinrich, Ph.D., of the German Research Center for Environment and Health at the Institute of Epidemiology, in Munich, traffic-related air pollution can increase the risk of allergy and atopic diseases in children by more than 50 percent!
Children are taking longer to outgrow food allergies than in the past.
Peanut allergies in children have doubled, studies show, fueling the increase (yet no one knows exactly why peanut allergies are rising).
According to "the hygiene hypothesis," children who are not exposed to some dirt and germs at an early age (due to living in an overly sterile, "hygienic" environment) are at an increased risk of allergies. Why? Because their developing immune systems didn't get exposed to many germs, they didn't get a chance to develop a tolerance to them and are more likely to overreact.
10 Allergy-Fighting Tips
As the number of children and adults with allergies increases, so does the need for simple and practical solutions to living with this condition. Here we've compiled 10 of the most useful, covering all types of allergies from foods to mold, dust, pollen, chemicals, pollution and pet dander.
When pollen and mold counts are high, spend more time indoors and keep windows close to keep the pollen out.
Wash bedding once a week in hot water--it will help get rid of dust mites and other allergy triggers.
Keep your home as dust-free as possible.
If you spend time outside, change your clothes and wash your hair when you come inside to remove pollen and other allergens.
Filter your home's air -- many allergic reactions are triggered by airborne particles.
Build your immune system with healthy nutritional supplementation.
Use dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas of your home where mold could grow, and be sure to clean them once a week.
Avoid using personal care products that contain fragrance, perfume and other synthetic ingredients.
If you have food allergies, be sure to read food labels carefully and if you eat out, let the server know that you absolutely cannot have certain ingredients.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol 177. pp. 1331-1337,