Unraveling the Mystery of the Allergy Epidemic (page 2)

Unraveling the Mystery of the Allergy Epidemic

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Updated on May 4, 2012

Vitamin D Deficiency

Another change that experts tentatively link to the food allergy epidemic is vitamin D deficiency. With so much time spent inside, especially in first-world countries, levels of vitamin D are plummeting. As with the other theories, experts aren’t sure whether this could be causing the allergy epidemic. What they do know is that places that are distant from the equator have higher rates of food allergies, and that babies born in the autumn and winter, when vitamin D levels are lowest, have a higher risk of developing food allergies. Is there a causative link? Researchers are trying to find out.

What You Can Do

So with so much that we don’t know about food allergies, what should parents do?

Early or late introduction of solids? Probiotic supplementation? Avoidance of antibacterial soap? Here are the current recommendations from COFAR (the Consortium of Food Allergy Research). Keep in mind that these recommendations may change any day!

  • Breastfeed exclusively for the first four to six months, if possible. “Breastfeeding is one thing guidelines consistently recommend as protective against food allergies,” explains Dr. Rudders.
  • If supplementing or exclusively bottle feeding, avoid cow’s milk or soy formula for the first four to six months. Instead, use an extensively hydrolyzed casein formula.
  • Introduce solids at 4-6 months of age.
  • Restrict allergen consumption during pregnancy and nursing, especially if the allergy runs in the family. Note that this approach has not currently been proven effective, but that it is often recommended.
  • Add a single food at a time during solid introduction, and wait three to five days before adding another food. Call your doctor if you see any possible signs of an allergy, such as a rash, GI discomfort, swelling, or respiration difficulties.


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