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Allergy Studies with a Few Surprises

Nearly one in 10 kids deals with allergies. That includes hay fever, respiratory, food, and skin allergies. That’s a lot of sniffling, sneezing, itching, and wheezing! It’s not any wonder that researchers keep trying to figure out ways to relieve some of this suffering. Here’s a snapshot of a few recent allergy studies that reveal a few surprises about allergies in kids.

Too clean? Think twice before going overboard with the cleaning supplies. A recent study found that inner-city newborns exposed to a too-clean home were more vulnerable to allergies and asthma later in life. Surprisingly, the more rodent, roach, and cat allergens they were exposed to, the better. Allergens plus bacteria appeared to be the most protective.

This study supports what’s called the “hygiene hypothesis.” What does that mean? When homes are too clean, young kids’ bodies might not develop the right responses to allergens like cat dander. Maybe cleanliness isn’t really next to godliness! The study needs more follow-up, especially since it reverses the results of earlier studies. So, don’t rush out and adopt a cat, or let your house become infested! Stay tuned for more on this topic in the future.

Moo! Exposure to microbes may also be behind another study’s recent findings. In rural areas of Sweden, researchers found that kids growing up on dairy farms had one-tenth the risk of allergies as kids living in other rural areas. The study found for the first time that delayed development of immune systems puts youngsters at risk for allergies. So, the researchers suspect something on these dairy farms is helping their immune systems to mature.

Speaking of milk (and eggs)… Researchers recently surveyed more than 300 caregivers of kids about their kids’ allergies, and what they found surprised them. Parents weren’t most anxious about peanut and tree allergies—which are the most severe. They were most worried about milk and egg allergies.

In a way, it makes sense: milk and eggs are used in so many dishes. It may be harder for parents to keep track of them. Fortunately, about two-thirds of the parents surveyed clearly understood how severe their child’s allergic reaction was. This is important because it’s necessary to have a clear plan of action to handle your child’s reactions. In severe cases, you might even need to give your child epinephrine.

Where you least expect it: Allergens can show up in unexpected places. A recent report about a skin allergy in an 11-year-old boy is a good example. Doctors finally traced the problem to the nickel in his iPad. Covering the iPad solved the problem. According to some doctors, skin allergies like this are becoming much more common. This report is a good reminder to consider the effects of metallic electronics and other potential sources of nickel exposure such as clothing fasteners and ear piercings.

If any of your kids suffer from allergies, consult with your doctor. You might need referral to a special doctor (an allergist). We can also answer your questions about allergy medications and point you to products in our store to help ease symptoms.


Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.


References

1.   CDC: “ Allergies and Hay Fever.” Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/allergies.htm
Accessed August 1, 2014.

2.   Health Day: “Too-Clean Homes May Encourage Child Allergies, Asthma: Study.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_146675.html Accessed August 1, 2014.

3.   Health Day: “Kids From Dairy Farms Have Lower Allergy Risk, Study Finds.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_147322.html Accessed August 1, 2014.

4.   Health Day: “Milk, Egg Allergies Seem to Make Parents Most Anxious.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_147011.html Accessed August 1, 2014.

5.  Health Day: “iPads Can Trigger Nickel Allergies in Kids.” Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_147296.html Accessed August 1, 2014.

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