For many years, scientists have studied what may cause food allergies. The hygiene hypothesis has led the pack for many allergists much to the dismay of people like me who often are pegged as OCD when it comes to cleaning.
There are some other theories about the possible causes of food allergies, but a fascinating recent study published in Australia has caught the eye of many of us in the allergy world and beyond. Why? Because scientists have learned that blood in a newborn’s umbilical cord may be able to predict whether a child will go on to develop food allergies.
If this bears out – whether the allergies are caused by environmental factors or genetic predisposition – learning that your newborn may be at risk to develop food allergies could be huge.
Could we then address the inflammation issues and the unbalanced immune system while the child is still very young and possibly rewrite each child’s future? Crafting one that, instead of regular allergy testing including blood draws and uncomfortable pin pricks, would include only annual well visits?
A future that, instead of carrying an EpiPen® and calling ahead to a restaurant to ensure safe food options and then walking by a half-dozen restaurants on the way to the “safe” one, would include popping in to whichever restaurant sounded good in that one moment?
Rather than one emergency room visit for a food allergic reaction every three minutes in the United States, might our children be able to stay at the party, soccer celebration, or family dinner eating every single thing offered?
These findings are big news!
If we can address these issues before they become full-fledged food allergies, perhaps one day we can look back at this time in history as the period where food allergies rose and were eradicated in just a few short generations. Between the treatment options being explored, these findings, and other continuing research, I believe it is absolutely possible that food allergies will be a distant memory. What good news for all of us!