Sinclair Cares: Allergies of all kinds, including food allergies, have increased
One in 13 children has a food allergy.
That's roughly two kids in every classroom.
May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.
Like most first time parents, 9-month-old Braelyn Vereen-Ray’s moms Ashley and Brandi worry a lot.
“I normally freak out if little things happen with her,” Brandi said.
And the rise in food allergies has given new parents another cause for concern.
Common food allergies, include milk, eggs and nuts. Reactions can be serious, and even life threatening.
What's most shocking is the dramatic increase in food allergies in recent years.
Dr. Gaurav Kumar from Lifebridge Health in Maryland says in the last 20 years, allergies of all kinds, including food allergies, have actually doubled roughly.
It's not a clear why.
One possibility is the hygiene theory. Basically, we've made our environments too clean, with too few germs.
“Our immune system has had less to do, and therefore it's actually started reacting to other things,” Kumar said.
In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a recommendation, saying parents should avoid giving their children certain foods until later in a child's life.
Avoid milk until age 1, avoid eggs until age 2, avoid nuts until age 3.
But in 2008, they struck down those guidelines, saying it was unclear what the right age should be.
“More recently, there is actually really intriguing evidence that suggests that for certain kinds of things like peanuts and eggs, it may be beneficial to introduce them earlier in a child's life, sometimes as early as 4-to-6 months of age.
And that's the message Kumar gave Braelyn's parents.
Begin introducing those foods in a safe manner, closely monitored at home.
If a baby has a family history of food allergies, it should be done under the supervision of a doctor.
Ashley and Brandi are looking forward to branching out with Braelyn's diet.
They're pretty sure she's looking forward to it too.
Parents should talk with their pediatricians about the best strategy for introducing new foods to their babies.