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Why are Kids Allergies on The Rise? An Important Overview


Food allergies among children have risen 18 percent from 1997 to 2007, 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.

children food allergies

One in 26 U.S. children have food allergies -- up 18 percent in the past decade.

In all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 3 million kids have food allergies, which occur when your 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 the particular food, your immune system then releases 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 discharges rose from 2,600 a year in the late 1990s to over 9,500 a 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 are 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 highly recommended 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!

Find out More About The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book Now!

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).

children and germs

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.

  1. When pollen and mold counts are high, spend more time indoors.

  2. Keep windows closed to keep pollen out.

  3. Wash bedding once a week in hot water--it will help get rid of dust mites and other allergy triggers.

  4. Keep your home as dust-free as possible. The PerfectClean line of mops, dusters, towels and more, which is used by leading hospitals and other health care organizations, is ideal for this. Rather than just pushing dust around, or worse, stirring it up into the air, PerfectClean's EasyGrip Mop and Flexible Duster are made with positively charged ultramicrofibers that pick up everything in their path--including dust and all of its microscopic attachments.

  5. If you spend time outside, change your clothes and wash your hair when you come inside to remove pollen and other allergens.

  6. Filter your home's air -- many allergic reactions are triggered by airborne particles. Sixwise highly recommends the PIONAIR Air Treatment System, as unlike most air purifiers, the PIONAIR™ Air Treatment System doesn't wait for pollutants to contact a filter or plate. Instead, the PIONAIR generates air-purifying technology that migrates through the area and neutralizes organic odors, microbes, & molds at their source. As a result, the PIONAIR produces fresh clean air throughout your home uniformly, by addressing the pollutant source -- without the use of fans, filters, or plates!

  7. If pet dander is a problem for you, keep pets out of the bedroom (or don't get any pets to begin with).

  8. Use dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas of your home where mold could grow, and be sure to clean them once a week.

  9. Avoid using personal care products that contain fragrance, perfume and other synthetic ingredients.

  10. 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. Also, be sure to check out The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book, our top-recommended source for anyone with food allergies. You'll learn what your food triggers might be, how to avoid them, easy-to-use alternatives, and even great-tasting allergen-free recipes.

Recommended Reading

Does Early Exposure to Food Allergens Increase Tolerance to Them?

The Top 8 Foods People Are Most Sensitive To -- Without Even Knowing It!


American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol 177. pp. 1331-1337, (2008) October 22, 2008 September 14, 2007

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