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Food allergies increasing

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Food allergies have more than doubled over the last decade. Yet two-thirds of children who develop one don’t have a parent with one.

What’s more frustrating than being unable to enjoy a food you used to love?

“You can develop a food allergy at any age. In fact, 50 percent of people with a food allergy develop it in adulthood,” pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson said.

Or keeping specific foods out of the house to prevent an allergic reaction from just one family member? The most common allergy in children? Peanuts, followed by dairy, soy, and treenuts.

“In adults for example, shrimp is the most common food allergy. Representing about three percent of adults,” Dr. Swanson said.

And those numbers are on the rise.

“We’ve seen a doubling of food allergies each of the last few decades. And in part, we know genetics play a big part in any kind of medical condition,” Dr. Swanson said.

The good news, experts are learning more about a major influencing factor, environment. Pediatrician and author, Dr. Swanson says some parents make a mistake following the hygiene hypothesis.

“The idea that you can kind of raise a child in too sterile of an environment and the research that even if you’re raising a baby or toddler in the presence of a dog, it’s good for them and decreases the likelihood that they’ll develop allergies later in life,” Dr. Swanson said.

Dr. Swanson says it’s no different with food allergies.

“New research over the past five years is helping guide how we actually advise parents to introduce and include foods in a baby and toddler’s diet to help combat the food allergy rates that we’re seeing,” Dr. Swanson said.

First step: talk to your pediatrician on how to get started.

“Make sure that your child’s skin is really maintained. Meaning eczema or dry skin is a risk factor for developing food allergies,” Dr. Swanson said.

Then get started introducing peanut, dairy, and fish into your child’s diet as young as four to six months.

Building a roadmap for a happy and healthier future for your child.

Instead of introducing those foods one by one, Dr. Swanson says it’s best to regularly expose your child to those foods.


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