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May 8, 2013
“Food allergies used to be a lonely condition. Those days are over.” – Joshua Feblowitz
A report just released by the CDC confirms that the rate of allergic conditions in U.S. children continues to rise. CDC’s survey states that 1 in 20 kids now have food allergies, a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s. For eczema and other skin allergies, the increase is a whopping 69 percent. Among children aged 0 to 17 years, the prevalence of skin allergies increased from 7.4 percent (1997-1999) to 12.5 percent in 2009-2011. (To read CDC’s report, go to www.cdc.gov/nchs.)
The reasons behind the steady uptick remain maddeningly unclear. Some researchers speculate that our society has become too clean (dubbed the “hygiene theory”), that we’ve eliminated the normal challenges to the immune system, prompting youngsters to react to what would ordinarily be safe, like certain foods. Others suggest that the detrimental effects of air pollution, pesticides and herbicides on foods, GMO-altered foods and/or a combination of these and other factors may be to blame.
Lately, research has begun examining the impact of our changing gut biome, the unexplored, yet enormously important bacterial “stew” that governs the gut and our overall immune health. Could the multi-generational use of antibiotics be altering the way our bodies respond to certain foods, turning them into allergic triggers?
There’s so much—too much--we just don’t know. What we do know is that the incidence of celiac disease (and other auto-immune conditions) and food allergies continues to rise.
In Living Without’s Aug/Sept 2013 issue, senior medical correspondent Christine Boyd covers the latest on gut biome and the implications of digestive system microbes on rising rates of allergies and celiac disease.