Al­ler­gies trig­gered by over-clean­ing

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Kaylee Martin

EX­TEN­SIVE clean­li­ness could be do­ing your child more harm than good, ac­cord­ing to a Curtin Univer­sity re­searcher.

Aus­tralia has one of the high­est rates of food al­ler­gies in the world, with re­search sug­gest­ing about one in 10 ba­bies will de­velop a food al­lergy. There is cur­rently no known cures for al­ler­gies, only ways to man­age them.

How­ever, school of phar­macy pro­fes­sor An­drew Crowe be­lieved there were steps par­ents could take to re­duce the risk of an al­lergy de­vel­op­ing in a child.

Dr Crowe said while sci­en­tists had yet to un­der­stand why al­ler­gic re­ac­tions of­ten oc­curred to foods like peanuts, he be­lieved part of the blame lay in the lack of di­ver­sity a child’s im­mune sys­tem ex­pe­ri­enced.

“Al­ler­gies aren’t caused by just one thing, it’s a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, but clean­li­ness does have an im­pact,” Dr Crowe said. “We clean our sur­round­ings with so many chem­i­cals, and iPads and things are just keep­ing kids in­side in a bleached en­vi­ron­ment.”

Dr Crowe said that to­day’s chil­dren, com­pared to their coun­ter­parts from hun­dreds of years ago, stayed in­doors and away from dirty more, thus hand­i­cap­ping their im­mune sys­tems.

“If we cre­ate an ar­ti­fi­cially clean en­vi­ron­ment, the body be­comes hy­per-trig­gered to find things that are bad,” he said. “The im­mune sys­tem is ex­pect­ing to see some­thing to fight off, so if kids are back play­ing in the dirt or climb­ing trees, the body will ex­pe­ri­ence the en­vi­ron­ment on a cel­lu­lar level and be able to dis­tin­guish the real threats.”

Years ago, ba­bies would eat the same food as adults, just in a pureed form.

This meant post breast-feed­ing ba­bies were most likely ex­posed to all food groups.

“Par­ents should be puree­ing the food they eat rather than buy­ing spe­cialised baby food,” Dr Crowe said.

The most com­mon food al­ler­gies in­cluded peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, shell­fish, cow’s milk, wheat and soy.

Th­ese al­ler­gies have al­ways been com­mon but have been steadily in­creas­ing.

Last week was Food Al­lergy Week. More in­for­ma­tion is at www.foodal­ler­gyaware.com.au.

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