estimated that one in every 13 children in the United States has a
food allergy ó the most common being milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts,
soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Food allergies each year alone result
in more than 300,000 children being rushed to the hospital by
In fact, the
number of children with food allergies is on the rise. According to a
study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, food allergies among children in the U.S. increased
approximately 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
think anyone really knows why," says Dr. Margaret Hennessy,
pediatrician with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in
Hennessy has been treating both children and adults who suffer from
allergies and believes a possible contributing factor for this
increase in child rates is something referred to as the "hygiene
concept here is that the more bugs you come in contact with when youíre
young, the less likely you are to have allergies," says Hennessy.
kids who live on farms are known to have lower risks of allergies,
according to Hennessy. She also believes that kids with less
infectious exposure to certain germs and the use of hand sanitizer and
other hand cleansers could result in an increased risk of allergies.
also plays a big role in food allergies for children. The likelihood
of suffering from a food allergy is greater in children whose parents
suffer from any type of allergic disease, such as asthma, eczema, food
allergies or environmental allergies, such as hay fever.
canít be controlled, there are things that parents can do to try to
reduce the risk in their children.
recommend as a way to decrease the risk of food allergies that babies
are exclusively breastfed for the first six months before being
started on solid food," says Hennessy.
A study in Japan
also found that moms who had an increased intake of dairy during
pregnancy found fewer food allergy problems in their children,
according to Hennessy. She concludes that researchers think vitamin D
may be effective in helping to reduce allergy risks.
part of all this is we still donít know enough about why. I think
thatís the big thing. Even when you look at these things that we
think of as protective, we canít really prove cause and effect. We
can only see it as associations," says Hennessy. M