As modern medicine continues to find ways to treat and prevent illnesses from occurring, at least one issue affecting children is on the rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, food allergies in children have risen by 50 percent over the past couple of decades with peanut or tree nut allergies more than tripling during roughly the same period. Complicating matters further, about 30 percent of children with a food allergy are allergic to more than one type of food.
It’s important to identify food allergies so that steps can be taken to avoid that food and prevent harmful reactions. Food allergies can cause severe reactions like anaphylaxis, a serious, fast acting reaction that causes an itchy rash, swelling of the throat and tongue, breathing problems, vomiting and light-headedness. A dose of epinephrine is usually required to mediate the symptoms.
About 200,000 people seek medical attention for food allergies each year, and roughly 40 percent of children with allergies will experience a serious incident at some point. Events are most common outside the home when it is more difficult to determine the ingredients of prepared food and cross-contamination is more likely.
There are a lot of theories for why allergies are on the rise and one idea gaining traction is the hygiene hypothesis. CNBC explains that this theory speculates that a lack of exposure to allergens, bacteria, and other infectious agents early in a child’s life can cause the immune system to register food proteins as a germ in the body. Although not conclusive, the FDA is currently investigating this theory, along with others, to help explain the sudden rise in allergies among American children.
It is possible for many allergies, such as milk, wheat, and eggs, to resolve themselves during childhood, but it is uncommon for allergies to tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and fish to go away on their own. As of yet, there is no medical cure for food allergies at any age, and the only real way to avoid issues is to avoid the problem foods.