In less than a generation, food allergies in children have reached epidemic levels. Peanuts, egg and cow's milk are top of the list - but why is this happening, and why are food allergies virtually non-existent in the Third World?
Associate Professor Katie Allen (leader of a study from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute), thinks the rise in food allergy is linked to our modern lifestyle. A baby's immune system develops through exposure to the environment - mostly via the gut through dirt, diet, bugs and infections. A combination of clean water, antibiotics, sterilising and sanitising every surface of the home, refrigeration, improved food handling and possibly vaccination, have all contributed to baby's immune systems not maturing adequately.
Add to this the advice that many new parents have been given - to not eat peanuts, cow's milk and egg during the last trimester of pregnancy and during breastfeeding, and to not introduce these foods to your baby until nearly 12 months of age. Professor Katie Allen states..."We have no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic food proteins prevents food allergy."
In fact, current research is favouring the early introduction of solid foods, including peanut butter, betweeen 4-6 months of age.
It appears that cleaner, safer living has come at a cost!
Interesting that the medical community has long-believed that certain foods were dangerous for a baby's immune system if introduced too early, yet injecting them with Hepatitis B vaccine at birth was OK?
May good food and good health always be enjoyed...