Scientists have linked food allergies in children and infants to a combination of genetics and skin exposure to baby wipes, dust, and food. In the study, scientists say that this helps with understanding the way food allergies develop.
Their findings show that there are ways to curb the development of food allergies in children.
Researchers from Northwestern Medicine released a study detailing a possible way that infants and children are developing food allergies. The study was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. They were able to establish a link between a mix of environmental and genetic factors that spark the development of food allergies.
Scientists are warning that the use of baby wipes and failure to remove soap from children's skin could lead to the formation of a food allergy. These factors combined along with skin exposure to food and allergens in dust.
Lead author of the study Joan Cook-Mills says these factors could be altered to avoid food allergies in children. Cook-Mills says that to minimize exposure to allergies, people should wash their hands before picking up their children. She adds that limiting the use of baby wipes avoids leaving soap on children's skin and recommends that soap should be rinsed off the skin with water.
Researchers in the study used neonatal mice with genetic mutations that occur in humans. At first, they tried to expose their skin to peanuts, but it had no effect. Cook-Mills says that the team then thought about what children are exposed to at home. This includes a parent who may kiss a baby after they have eaten or a parent that picks up a baby after making food.
Cook-Mills then researched skin studies that revealed how skin compounds could be delivered through the skin using soap. Skin is made up of a top layer of fats, and using soap can damage this layer.
A disruption to the skin may not be seen until after the allergy has developed. In the experiment, the neonatal mice develop dry, itchy skin after a few months. For the study, the mice received three to four exposures to food and dust allergens for 40 minutes during a two-week period. These mice were then fed a peanut or egg.
After the feeding, the mice developed allergic reactions where their skin was exposed and in the intestine. They also developed the severe allergy anaphylaxis.
Food allergies are on the rise in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented research showing that food allergies in children have increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. This means that 1 in 13 children in the United States is suffering from food allergies.