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Sinclair Cares: Allergy Awareness Month

Sinclair Cares: Allergy Awareness Month (WPEC)

One in three children has a food allergy.

That's roughly two children in every classroom.

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.

"What's fascinating is that in the last 20 years, allergies of all kinds -- including food allergies -- have actually doubled roughly," Dr. Gaurav Kumar said.

However, it's not clear why.

One possibility is that Hygience Theory, meaning people have made their environments too clean with too little 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 one, avoid eggs until age 2 and 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 four to six months of age," Kumar said.

That's the message Kumar is giving parents today. Start 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.

Parents should talk with their pediatricians about the best strategy for introducing new foods to their babies.


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