Childhood Allergy Insights

Every kid seems to have childhood allergies of some kind. I was allergic to strawberries when I was in grade school… but maybe that came from having to pick too many of them each summer. At any rate, that allergy went away as I got older, as many childhood allergies seem to do. Obviously, some allergies are more serious and present greater exposure to the child. Peanut allergies and being allergic to corn syrup can present life-threatening scenarios that must be guarded against constantly. Because they represent such an exposure, they also heavily impact the entire family environment, especially when travelling or attending a birthday party. Corn syrup further complicates the issue because it occurs in all kinds of processed foods. So, parents can never drop their vigilance.

Antibiotics and Vitamin D Deficiency Can Lead to Childhood Food Allergies

Thankfully, from time to time, medical research makes some breakthroughs to provide insights into what can be done to reduce the allergy potential. Two such occurrences have recently been reported through the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first established that increased use of antibiotics in the first year of a child’s life leads to higher incidence of food allergies. This is thought to occur because the antibiotics disrupt the bacteria (good as well as the bad) that are growing and forming a functional relationship in the child’s gut. Disturbing the balance allows for food allergies to gain a foothold.

The second insight is that a vitamin D deficiency can also set the stage for food allergies. An extensive study in Australia (a country with high child food allergy rates and extensive vitamin D deficiencies) has demonstrated a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and the propensity for food allergies. These study results suggest, then, that vitamin D sufficiency is a real protective factor in preventing food allergies in the first year of a child’s life.

Two Basic Solutions

The vitamin D deficiency issue is one more easily solved. Have your pediatrician check your child’s vitamin D level. It’s done through a simple blood test. Any deficiency can be corrected with medication. A vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon. We take vitamin D supplements on doctor’s orders every day. Vitamin D is important for many reasons, so don’t overlook this simple test. Avoiding a food allergy will make life much more pleasant for your child and much easier for you.

The antibiotics question is another issue altogether. If the medical situation warrants and your pediatrician says your baby needs an antibiotic, so be it. We have antibiotics to be used when they are needed. On the other hand, don’t try to talk the doctor into administering an antibiotic when it is not needed. This only builds resistance to the drug and disturbs the bacteria counts in the baby’s system.

So, by following that straightforward guidance of checking vitamin D levels and not abusing antibiotics, you and your child can reduce the potential for food allergies for your child. Your child will be happier and your life will be easier.