rise of allergy
Recent studies find that there is increase in the incidence of allergies over the last 25 years which may be described as an “epidemic”, and it is considered now as a major public health problem.
There is not a concrete understanding of why allergies have increased like this in recent times, especially in children. Potential reasons include lifestyle, physical environment, and genetic factors; however, it is likely that allergies occur due to combinations of these factors.
Risk factors are starting to emerge from studies like:
- Skin exposure to allergens may lead to development of food allergy
- Loss of function gene mutations (Filaggrin)
- Delayed introduction of some kinds of foods (e.g., egg and peanut)
Risk factors that have not yet been confirmed in studies:
- The hygiene hypothesis: this is a theory that assumes that children who have less exposure to infections or contaminations in their infancy will be at an increased risk of allergy.
- Way of food processing (e.g., roasting some kinds of nuts as opposed to boiling them)
- Vitamin D deficiency (study links between vitamin D deficiency and developing allergic diseases)
Tips to decrease liability of infant to develop allergy:
- Breastfeeding for at least 6 months
- Continue to breastfeed while introducing solid foods starting from 4-6 months.
- Avoid smoking during pregnancy
- Avoid passive smoking (exposure to tobacco smoke)
- There is no evidence that a mother’s diet during pregnancy or during breastfeeding will reduce the risk of developing food allergy or not.