Regular readers of this rant will know that I’ve long held that allergies in childhood can be mitigated by exposing very young children to things they might become sensitive or outright allergic to in later life. This morning I find yet another another study supporting my ‘old wives tale’ hypothesis…
I say. let kids be kids. Let ’em play outdoors and get dirty. And expose them to a wide range
of foods when they’re still infants and toddlers. They’re grow up healthier and happier.
And several recent university studies agree with me. So there.
I’ve often said, in this space in the past, coddling our kids is leading to a dangerous rise in allergies and sensitivities in later life. And that’s causing loss of productivity in time off for treatment and recovery, not to mention burdening the health care system with costs that could be avoided.
Three weeks ago, I told you about a new study by researchers at the University of South Carolina that showed kids who get a lot of antibiotics when they’re little are more likely to develop allergies when they’re older. Those antibiotics cripple he body’s immune system which gets lazy because it doesn’t have to do its natural job. Just a week ago, I reported the results of a survey by researchers in New Zealand that showed that kids who bite their nails, suck their thumbs, or both, are less likely to develop allergies and sensitivities in later years. That dovetails with my theory that kids should just be left to be kids; to play outside, get dirty and expose themselves to all the natural pathogens the the environment can throw at them. They’ll develop immunities to them and grow up strong and healthy. Now, severe allergies such as those that result in anafalactic shock are an exception. But they affect very few people, and their numbers are not increasing dramatically.
Now, yet another study, this time by researchers at Imperial College, London, UK, finds that feeding kids small amounts of potential allergens every day can reduce the risk of these kids developing allergies to those foods in the future. Eggs and Peanuts are particularly indicated as foods that can be used inn this kind of immunotherapy. Researchers also tested Fish and Shellfish, Milk, Tree Nuts and Wheat but found that feeding these potentially allergens to very young kids did not have as profound an effect as feeding Peanuts and Eggs did. But that’s okay. The researchers note that Peanut and Egg allergies account for the lion’s share of allergies among kids in the U.K. So treating them, alone, with immunotherapy could have a significant benefit to the kids and the health care system. I’ll bet the study results would hold true for Europe and North America, too.
What have I been saying?
From the outset of the public debate on food allergies in kids I’ve fallen back on the old mother’s rule: If kids – infants and toddlers – show a sensitivity to a food, feed them a little every day. They’ll get used to it. How is it that we lost track of this simple, common sense technique? until recently, doctors were routinely telling new mothers not to expose their babies to potential allergens too early. The studies I’ve spotlighted in this space recommend the opposite. And, then, there’s the antibiotic issue. It’s parallel to but aside from the food allergy story. Together, they’re producing generation after generation of frail kids who turn into frail adults who tax the health care system and cripple the economy by taking excessive sick days.
~ Maggie J.