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Debate!: Childhood Allergies

>> Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bailey Jane and Piper Jaimes in their favorite spot: the kitchen.
My gal pal, Bailey and her partner in crime and cuteness Piper, have this great blog called Foodie Patoodie!  (love the use of exclamation points in titles, by the way) where she actually got some heat for giving her 10+ month old baby a PB&J for the first time. This, coupled with my obnoxious obsession with teaching people, made me realize how misinformed... and slightly paranoid... a lot of people are. So, I blog. Hey, any excuse to update this thing, right?

First off: I am not denying that childhood allergies exist. I AM saying that they aren't as prevalent as you would think and a lot of contributing factors to the ones that do have allergies. Now on to the studies!

Some info on Allergies:

While it is true that approximately one in five Americans have allergies, only about 2.5% of Americans have food related allergies. Allergies are your immune systems abnormal response to a harmless substance (like a flower) causing varying reactions from sneezes to rashes.

When a person is exposed to an allergen, a few things happen. First, the body produces antibodies. The antibodies produced attempt to contain the allergen. Then through a serious of really complicated chemical reactions, you get histamines in your blood and you react. WebMD does a great job of explaining the really scientific jargon, but you know me... I don't wanna scare you off that fast!

All of a Sudden, Everyone's Allergic:

Everyone seems to talk about food allergies and my child this and her child that. Some schools won't even let their children bring milk or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school. Okay, go ahead and get mad, but really? Those are staples of child hood! So many food allergy fears are actually taken overboard. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that there was an over-reaction to food allergy and many of the children involved in the study had 84-93% of the restricted foods restored to their diets. That is a LOT of food unnessesarily restricted!

Being overprotective and too cautious during early years can actually make things worse. We need germs, having a pet in the house won't increase a babies risk for animal allergies, and simple things, like having low levels of vitamin D in a babies diet, can affect development of allergies. For the record: higher levels of vitamin D lowers sensitivity to allergens in children. Now do go out and rush around getting supplements, just let the kids eat. Preferably a WELL ROUNDED DIET!

Now What?:

Well... discuss it with me? Do you think avoiding known allergens is the way to go, or do you believe in trial and error? Are we being too overprotective? Where do we draw the  line? Debate! 


Amber June 18, 2011 at 8:17 PM  

I have two kids. When my first child was born in 2005 they were recommending that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers avoid peanut butter, and that you not offer it to your child before age 3. I think I ended up caving and giving my kid peanut butter when she was about 2.5, after I got tired of paying through the nose for almond butter. She was fine.

When my second child was born in 2008 I heard different recommendations. There's some research that suggests delaying introductions of potential allergens does not, in fact, reduce the rates of anaphylaxis. In fact, quite the opposite. When they compared children from the UK who had never been exposed to peanut products and kids from Israel who had been given peanut products from a young age, the rate of serious reactions was higher in the UK population.

With the new research, plus the fact that we don't have a family history of allergies, and also having one peanut-eating kid, my second child was introduced far earlier. In fact, he introduced HIMSELF when he was about 9 months old. He pulled himself up on his big sister's lunch table and took a big bite of her sandwich full on. The cat was out of the bag, and I decided to just run with it. Today they are both healthy, non-allergic kids.

If you have actual allergies, taking precautions seems reasonable. But if you DON'T, I'm not inclined to avoid foods for my family. I do, however, respect the "no nuts" rule at my daughter's school, regardless of what I personally think about it.

Marizela M. Zambrano June 19, 2011 at 3:06 PM  

I think in general, people are over protective and good intentioned, but really, trial and error seems to work. Everyone is different.

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