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Friday, May 3rd, 2013
American-born children have a higher risk of developing allergies to foods or airborne particles like pollen or dust, a new study has found. Though researchers have not identified a definitive reason for the findings, The New York Times reports that the risk is elevated across a number of variables:
After adjusting for age, race, sex, ethnicity and other variables, the scientists found that children born outside the United States were 48 percent less likely to suffer from allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergies. The researchers reported their findings in an online article Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
Children with American-born parents had higher rates of allergies than children with foreign-born parents, and having two foreign-born parents reduced the risk for allergy even more than having one.
Just living in the United States appeared to increase the risk — foreign-born children who lived in the United States for 10 years or more were more than three times as likely to have allergies as those who lived here for two years or less.
Image: Child with hay fever, via Shutterstock
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Friday, July 20th, 2012
A new treatment is emerging for the treatment–even reversal–of childhood food allergies; giving kids small amounts of problem foods to train their immune systems to accept that the foods are not dangerous. The Associated Press reports on the latest example of this approach, which has been shown to reverse egg allergies in children:
In the best test of this yet, about a dozen kids were able to overcome allergies to eggs, one of the most ubiquitous foods, lurking in everything from pasta and veggie burgers to mayonnaise and even marshmallows. Some of the same doctors used a similar approach on several kids with peanut allergies a few years ago.
Don’t try this yourself, though. It takes special products, a year or more and close supervision because severe reactions remain a risk, say doctors involved in the study, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
‘‘This experimental therapy can safely be done only by properly trained physicians,’’ says a statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal agency that sponsored the study.
It didn’t work for everyone, and some dropped out of the study because of allergic reactions. But the results ‘‘really do show there is promise for future treatment’’ and should be tested now in a wider group of kids, said the study’s leader, Dr. A. Wesley Burks, pediatrics chief at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
More than 2 percent of young children have egg allergies, suffering wheezing and tight throats or even life-threatening reactions if they eat any egg, Burks said. Many will outgrow this by age 4 or 5, and more will by the time they are teens, but 10 to 20 percent never do.
Image: Eggs, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Having a dog or cat in the house when children are less than a year old may mean the kids face fewer health problems later in their childhoods, a new study conducted in Finland has found–with dogs offering greater potential protection than cats. CNN.com has more:
The study, published in next month’s issue of Pediatrics, followed 397 children from before birth to age 1, and noted the number of times they had contact with either a dog or cat each week.
Although it’s a pretty common thing to see newborns with minor respiratory issues and ear infections, researchers found those babies who had more interaction with animals seemed to have fewer of these problems and needed less medication, even when they were sick.
Even though babies living with cats were still protected, their protection was not as strong as those babies who lived around dogs. And kids living in homes in which dogs went in and out of the house more often seemed to have the lowest risk of infections.
Although doctors acknowledge more research is needed, they say there’s something about animals that affect an infant’s immune system which can protect against certain childhood infections.
Image: Baby with dog, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Two elementary school girls in Tacoma, Washington have reportedly suffered severe sunburns after their school banned sunscreen, MSNBC.com is reporting. The girls are sisters, and one of them has a skin condition that makes her especially sensitive to the sun. According to MSNBC, the girls’ mother is challenging the ban:
Their mother said seeing her girls walk through the door was a moment she’ll never forget. “It was horrifying to see (Violet’s) bright red face. There were welts, she was swollen and then I saw Zoe’s shoulders. It was absolutely painful and gut-wrenching to look at. I was horrified.” The burns were so severe, [Jesse] Michener whisked her daughters to the local hospital for examinations.
When Michener pressed school officials on the ban, they told her that there is a state-wide policy that does not allow staff to apply sunscreen to students, and students can only apply it themselves if they have a doctor’s note. The law exists because the additives in lotions and sunscreens can cause an allergic reaction in children, and sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug. Michener discovered that the policy exists in 49 states nationwide; California is the only state to allow sunscreen in school without a doctor’s note.
“I did share with the principal that any policy that didn’t allow her to use common sense was something that I had to do something about,” Michener said. “She nodded and shook her head.”
Image: Sunscreen, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
More than half of all low-cost jewelry on the market in the U.S.–including jewelry intended for children–contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals, a new study by the Michigan-based Ecology Center has found. The study found lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine, and chlorine (PVC) in the jewelry they analyzed. These substances have been linked in animal and some human studies to acute allergies as well as long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.
“Toxic jewelry is a symptom of the complete failure of our federal chemical regulatory system,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org, in a statement. ”Our children will never be safe until we reform our chemical laws to ensure products are safe before they arrive on store shelves.”
Visit HealthyStuff.org for a more detailed report on which chemicals were most often found in low-cost jewelry.
Image: Child’s bracelet, via Shutterstock.
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