Scientists are telling us that food allergies, especially in children, are on the rise all over the world and the numbers show no signs of slowing.
Does it seem that, more and more, children around you are developing food allergies at an alarming rate? From your co-worker complaining about the price of handmade gluten-free bread for her child to your niece’s newfound peanut allergy, it seems that kids and food allergies are starting to go hand in hand. This leaves many of us adults to ponder on whether things have always been this way and we just never noticed it when we were children ourselves or if kids of today are more susceptible to food allergies for some reason. BBC reports that science is telling us it’s probably the latter.
Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly what is causing the increase in food allergies, many of which have the potential to be life-threatening. This past summer, a six-year-old girl from Australia died due to a dairy allergy and sadly, these stories are becoming far too common. Recent reports state that approximately seven percent of children in the U.K. and approximately nice percent of children in Australia have serious food allergies while it’s been reported that across Europe, just two percent of adults have serious food allergies.
The rise in allergies in recent decades has been particularly noticeable in the West. Food allergy now affects about 7 percent of children in the UK and 9 percent of those in Australia, for example. Across Europe, 2 percent of adults have food allergies.
The most common foods that children are allergic to today, animal-milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts such as pine or brazil nuts, sesame seed and oil, fish and shellfish, can cause a whole host of symptoms from skin redness, hives, swelling, vomiting and trouble breathing sometimes leading to anaphylactic shock. In severe cases, allergic reactions can cause anaphylactic shock right away.
Scientists have not yet invented a cure for food allergies and many believe that a cause will need to be determined first. Though no direct cause has been pinpointed yet, several theories exist. Some of the theories include pollution, environmental factors, and dietary changes. Another interesting theory is improved hygiene. Parasitic infections are usually combated by the same cell systems that battle allergies. But with fewer parasites to fight off these days, children’s immune systems are not as strong as they should be. Vitamin D is said to be the closest thing to a cure of sorts. It’s said that vitamin D can help the body to develop a healthy response system and help our bodies to be less susceptible to food allergies.
So for now, eat healthy options and keep those epi-pens close by but hopefully, a cure is on the horizon.