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Monday, February 23rd, 2015
For the past few years, researchers around the world have dedicated their studies to find out why so many childhood allergies are on the rise.
A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that there may actually be a positive link between handwashed dishes and decreased children’s allergies.
The study, published in the journal of Pediatrics, focused on more than 1,000 children between the ages of 7 and 8. In addition to determining if a parent washed dishes by hand or with a dishwasher, researchers noted if children ate fermented foods, and consumed foods that were purchased directly from farms (such as eggs, meat, and unpasteurized milk). Researchers then analyzed each child’s development of asthma, eczema, and hay fever.
“Ultimately, the researchers found that children raised in households where dishes were always washed by hand had half the rate of allergies,” reports the The New York Times. In fact, 38 percent of children who ate from dishwashed plates had a history of eczema, compared to only 23 percent of children who ate from handwashed plates. “They also discovered that this relationship was amplified if the children also ate fermented foods or if the families bought food directly from local farms.”
The correlation between handwashed dishes and fewer allergies is likely due to an idea known as “hygiene hypothesis,” which argues that children who live in germ- and bacteria-free environments develop more allergies because a tolerance is never built up.
The AAP study also notes, “Dishwashing by hand might, however, be associated with different lifestyle and socioeconomic factors that could act as cofounders, explaining the lower prevalence of allergy seen in children whose parents use hand dishwashing.” Meaning that how children are raised (including their family backgrounds, economic households, etc.) may play a role in how dishes are washed. And further research is needed to confirm if there is a definite cause and effect relationship between these findings.
Read more about the dishwashing and allergy study on AAP.org.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn
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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
Some hopeful news for parents of kids with peanut allergies: A new Australian study found that a daily dose of peanut protein taken with a probiotic was successful in treating nut allergies in children.
Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital Institute in Melbourne, Australia gave 60 kids with peanut allergies a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein, or a placebo. Researchers reported that over 80 percent of the children who received the probiotic with gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein—a technique known as oral immunotherapy—were able to tolerate nuts at the end of the study. And even more surprising: the kids were able to include them in their diet without adverse reactions two to five weeks after the treatment ended.
So what does this mean for children suffering from mild to life-threatening peanut allergies right now? “This is a wonderful, small study that holds a lot of exciting avenues for future research and applications, but we can’t necessary take these results and run with them just yet,” says David Stukus, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “The biggest drawbacks are that it’s a small study and only tests kids’ reactions to peanuts a few weeks after the conclusion of the study, so we don’t know what would happen if they ate nuts a few months or years down the road.”
Dr. Stukus also cautions that, as in all other studies with oral immunotherapy for food allergies, there was a very high rate of allergic reactions in patients who underwent the therapy. “Almost 50 percent of these kids had some sort of reaction, including anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening—this is not a safe procedure to do on your own. It requires supervision from a physician or a team of medical professions, and can only be done under the right circumstances.” So if your child has a peanut allergy, speak to your allergist about how this development might help your family down the road.
Maria-Nicole Marino is an Assistant Editor at Parents who covers kids’ health. She’s a proud Syracuse University alum with a not-so-secret love of kickboxing. Her cubicle currently houses two yoga balls and a bike. #healtheditorproblems
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Friday, June 20th, 2014
Kids (and adults) with severe allergies to peanuts could someday be able to enjoy the nuts, hope North Carolina-based researchers who are developing a process of treating peanuts to render them hypoallergenic. Reuters has more:
Researchers from North Carolina’s Agricultural and Technical State University have developed a patented process that reduces peanut allergens by up to 98 percent. Allergens are the substances that trigger allergic reactions. The new process reduces them by soaking de-shelled and roasted peanuts in a solution of food-grade enzymes.
The treated peanuts are made to look and taste like regular roasted peanuts, and they are not genetically modified.
“Treated peanuts can be used as whole peanuts, in pieces or as flour to make foods containing peanuts safer for many people who are allergic,” said lead researcher Jianmei Yu in a statement.
The treated peanuts could even be used in immunotherapy, under a doctor’s supervision, she added.
The process reduces two key peanut allergy triggers called Ara h 1 and Ara h 2. It reduces Ara h 1 to undetectable levels, and Ara h 2 by up to 98 percent. Human skin-prick trials were conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to measure the effectiveness of the process.
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Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Scientists are finding increasing evidence that exposure to peanuts might actually help lessen or eliminate peanut allergies in children who are already allergic. Time.com reports on a new British study in which children consumed increasing amounts of peanut flour as part of an experimental treatment:
Eighty percent of children who participated in an experimental treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the U.K. for six months were afterwards able to safely eat peanuts without a experiencing a reaction. The researchers at the hospital gave 99 kids between the ages 7 and 16 increasing doses of peanut flour mixed in with their food. Researchers slowly upped the amount of flour from 2 milligrams to 800 milligrams. At the end of the trial, the scientists reported that well over half of the children could eat five peanuts at a time without experiencing dangerous side effects.
The idea behind the therapy is that the children’s immune systems slowly build a tolerance to peanuts through consuming small amounts. The goal of the treatment is not to completely cure the children of their allergies, but to help them build a tolerance that will prevent them from having severe and life-threatening reactions if they come into contact with them. The researchers plan to test the same treatment in larger populations.
Health experts are not sure why, but food allergies are on a rise in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 4-6% of U.S. children have a food allergy. How food allergies develop is still being studied, but some guesses are that America’s high standard of sanitation is making us “too clean” and unable to build up immune systems that can fight common allergens from foods and the environment. It’s also possible that kids who don’t eat foods like peanuts and shellfish when they are younger may develop allergies to them.
For more information regarding what’s safe to eat and what’s not during pregnancy, download our Pregnancy Eating Guide.
Image: Peanut butter, via Shutterstock
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Friday, December 20th, 2013
Research has long shown that children who grow up with family pets have a lower incidence of pet allergies and asthma, but a new study is closer to identifying the reason why. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco discovered that homes with dogs have higher levels of certain beneficial bacteria that help kids’ developing immune systems be in balance and less likely to “overreact” to pet dander and other airborne allergens. More from Boston.com:
Previous research suggests that the establishment of certain gut bacteria in the intestinal tracts of newborns could affect their development of asthma later in childhood. Certain harmful bacteria associated with the use of antibiotics, for example, were found by European researchers to increase a child’s risk of asthma, while living with a dog or cat in the house was found in other studies to decrease the risk.
“We wanted to see which organisms were protective,” said study co-author Susan Lynch, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco. She and her colleagues exposed some young mice to both dust from a dog owner’s home as well as dust from a dog-free home. Then, they exposed the mice to common allergens. The researchers found that those exposed to dog dust were less likely to have allergic reactions and inflammation in their breathing passages (a sign of asthma) than those exposed to the regular dust. The results were published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers identified a particular bacteria in the dog dust—Lactobacillus johnsonii—and found that giving it to the mice protected them against respiratory virus infections, though not as well as the dog dust itself.
Likely, other beneficial bacteria also exist in this dust, and Lynch said future studies will try to determine what those are. “Lactobacillus could play an important role in structuring a healthy bacteria biome in the gut early in life,” Lynch said, “but we have no actual evidence of that yet.”
Image: Child and dog, via Shutterstock
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