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Prevalence and Severity of Childhood Food Allergies Are On The Rise: What's The Cause?

A national study of food allergies in the US, the largest of its kind, finds that more children have food allergies than previously reported. What's the cause?

The study, published in the July issue of Pediatrics, and headed by Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Children's Memorial Hospital, shows food allergy affects 8 percent of children under 18 years of age, or about 5.9 million children in the US. Of those, 38.7 percent had a history of severe reactions, and 30.4 percent had multiple food allergies. Children with food allergies were most commonly allergic to peanuts (25.2 percent), milk (21.1 percent) and shellfish (17.2 percent).

"The large, population-based nature of this study shows that pediatric food allergy is a significant and growing problem in our society," said Dr. Gupta. "Based on our data, about 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy. What's more, nearly 2 out of every 5 affected children suffer from a severe food-allergy. For these children, accidental ingestion of an allergenic food may lead to difficulty breathing, a sharp drop in blood pressure, and even death. Now that we understand just how far-reaching the problem of food allergy truly is, we can begin taking the necessary steps to keep these children safe."

To determine the true prevalence of food-allergy, researchers surveyed nearly 40,000 US households with children. Participants were asked to answer a battery of questions for a randomized child in their household, including present or past food allergy, date of onset, method of diagnosis, and reaction history for each reported allergen. Detailed demographic items were also included. Said Dr. Gupta, "What makes this study so unique is not only the large number of households surveyed, but the amount of data collected for children with a reported food allergy. With this data we are able to differentiate between perceived and convincing food allergies, understand racial and economic differences in food allergy, and understand trends in food allergy diagnosis and testing. For example, Asian and Black children were more likely to have a convincing history of food allergy, but were less likely to receive a formal diagnosis when compared with White children."

The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), a non-profit founded in 1998 by concerned parents and grandparents and the largest provider of funding for food allergy research, helped fund this study. "FAI was proud to support this important study. It is especially disturbing to see the increasing prevalence and severity of food allergies in this country. Every day, we hear from families who are struggling with the emotional, physical and economic impact of food allergies. That's why FAI is committed to accelerating the pace of clinical trials that will lead to new therapies and ultimately, a cure," said Mary Jane Marchisotto, Executive Director of FAI.

Gupta says the next set of studies will focus on understanding observed geographical, racial, and diagnostic trends. "By understanding why some children are affected by food allergy while others are not, we can begin to better focus our efforts on finding a cure."

4 Possible Causes Why Allergies Are Increasing

We're Too Clean
Cleanliness could be to blame. The "hygiene hypothesis" proposes children aren't exposed to enough dirt, bacteria and other infectious agents early on, and their under-stimulated immune systems goes on the offense when exposed to benign stuff like food.

"Their 'bored' immune system goes out and attacks a peanut, an egg, wheat, milk -- foods that are in everybody's diet quite normally," Eghrari-Sabet said.

Children are actually increasingly allergic to anti-bacterial products, many which are ironically supposed to prevent allergies.

Previous studies have shown that children in daycares, known to be hotbeds for spreading germs, have fewer allergies than those raised at home with less contact with other kids, said Dr. Richard Honsinger, an allergist and immunologist at Los Alamos Medical Care Clinic in New Mexico.

However, Eghrari-Sabet notes that while both statements are true -- children are kept in cleaner environments, and children have more food allergies than ever before -- this doesn't make the hygiene hypothesis true.

Pollution
The concentration of air pollution in our environment depends on both the amount of pollution produced and the rate at which pollutants disperse. This depends largely on wind (both strength and direction). In areas where the wind is very strong, pollution is dispersed and blown away. In areas where there is little or no wind, air pollution accumulates and concentrations can be high.

Geoengineering strategies are taking a huge toll on the environment of every major city in the world. High altitude chemtrails contain high levels of barium and lead as well as trace amounts of other chemicals including aluminum, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, selenium and silver. They have also been found to contain more than twenty different types of bacteria and fungii detected in various cities throughout the world at various concentrations with the potential to cause many different types of allergies and diseases.

Genetically Modified Foods
A popular book, Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith, is raising literacy about genetically modified foods and the threats they pose to sustainable life on our planet. The book also details how the increase in allergies could be largely attributable to GMO foods.

Researchers have found clear links among the consumption of GM-corn and immunological alterations in the gut and the exacerbation and creation of allergies.

Vaccines

Vaccines clog our lymphatic system and lymph nodes with large protein molecules which have not been adequately broken down by our digestive processes, since vaccines by pass digestion with injections. This is why vaccines are linked to allergies, because they contain large proteins which as circulating immune complexes (CICs) or "klinkers" which cause our body to become allergic.

Approximately 20 percent of children may outgrow their allergies, but with the increased frequency of recommened vaccines before the age of 3, severe allergic reactions will likely increase.


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