Prevalence of Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Food allergies are very important these days
because it’s becoming so common. In 2011, we published a paper showing that
food allergies impact 8 percent of kids. With that many kids impacted by food allergy,
there’s a lot of interest in it. Food allergies are rising in prevalence, and
it’s probably a combination of genetics and environment. And since genetics haven’t changed much, many
researchers —including us — are looking into what has changed in our environment. Now, there’s a couple common theories. One is the hygiene hypothesis: The idea
that we’re not getting dirty as much, playing in the dirt, getting a lot of the bugs that
we use to get to jump-start our immune system. Another big theory right now is the microbiome
theory: The good bacteria in our gut is changing, possibly due to a number of things that happen
early in life that wipe out the bad bacteria but they also wipe out the good bacteria. All of these things may be working together
to give us that turn-on switch for food allergies in a lot of kids today.

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