Why food allergies have more than doubled over the last decade
HEALTH - Food allergies have more than doubled over the last decade. Yet, two–thirds of children who develop one don't have a parent with one. Experts say fortunately, we now know more about food allergies than ever before.
What's more frustrating than being unable to enjoy a food you used to love? Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, Pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer of Before Brands said, "You can develop a food allergy at any age. In fact, 50% of people with a food allergy develop it in adulthood."
The most common allergy in children is peanuts followed by dairy, soy, and tree nuts. She said, "In adults for example, shrimp is the most common food allergy. Representing about 3–percent of adults." Those numbers are on the rise. She said, "We've seen a doubling of food allergies each of the last few decades. And in part, we know genetics play a big part in any kind of medical condition."
The good news is experts are learning more about a major influencing factor, environment. Dr. Swanson said some parents make a mistake following the Hygiene Hypothesis. "...the idea that you can kind of raise a child in too sterile of an environment and the research that even if you're raising a baby or toddler in the presence of a dog, it's good for them an decreases the likelihood that they'll develop allergies later in life," she said.
Dr. Swanson said it's no different with food allergies. She said, "New research over the past five years is helping guide how we actually advise parents to introduce and include foods in a baby and toddler's diet to help combat the food allergy rates that we're seeing."
The first step is to talk to your pediatrician on how to get started. "Make sure that your child's skin is really maintained. Meaning eczema or dry skin is a risk factor for developing food allergies," she said. Then begin introducing peanut, dairy, and fish into your child's diet as young as 4 to 6 months. Instead of introducing those foods one by one Doctor Swanson said it's best to regularly expose your child to those foods.
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