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Allergy Studies with a Few Surprises


Submitted by Rob Bean, RPh, Axline Pharmacy

Nearly 1 in 10 kids deals with allergies. That includes hay fever and respiratory, food, and skin allergies. That’s a lot of sniffling and sneezing and itching and wheezing! It’s no wonder that researchers keep trying to figure out ways to relieve some of this suffering. Here’s a snapshot of a few recent allergy studies that reveal a few surprises about allergies in kids.

Too Clean?

Think twice before going overboard with the cleaning supplies. A recent study found that inner-city newborns exposed to a too-clean home were more vulnerable to allergies and asthma later in life. Surprisingly, the more rodent, roach, and cat allergens they were exposed to, the better. Allergens plus bacteria appeared to be the most protective.

This study supports what’s called the “hygiene hypothesis.” What does that mean? When homes are too clean, young kids’ bodies might not develop the right responses to allergens like cat dander. Maybe cleanliness isn’t really next to godliness!

The study needs more follow-up, especially since it reverses the results of earlier studies. So, don’t rush out and adopt a cat (or let your house become infested!) But stay tuned for more on this topic.

Exposure to microbes may also be behind another study’s recent findings. In rural areas of Sweden, researchers found that kids growing up on dairy farms had one-10th the risk of allergies as kids living in other rural areas. The study found for the first time that delayed development of immune systems puts youngsters at risk for allergies. So the researchers suspect something on these dairy farms is helping their immune systems to mature.

Speaking of Milk (and Eggs)
Researchers recently surveyed more than 300 caregivers about their kids’ allergies. What they found surprised them. Parents were not as anxious about peanut and tree allergies — which are the most severe — as they were about milk and egg allergies.

In a way, this makes sense: milk and eggs are used in so many more dishes. It may be harder for parents to keep track of them. Fortunately, about two-thirds of the parents surveyed clearly understood how severe their child’s allergic reaction was. This is important because it’s necessary to have a clear plan of action to handle your child’s reactions. In severe cases, you might even need to give your child epinephrine.

Where You Least Expect It

Allergens can show up in unexpected places. A recent report about a skin allergy in an 11-year-old boy is a good example. Doctors finally traced the problem to the nickel in his iPad. Covering the iPad solved the problem.

According to some doctors, skin allergies like this are becoming much more common. This report is a good reminder to consider the effects of metallic electronics and other potential sources of nickel exposure such as clothing fasteners and ear piercings.

If any of your children suffer from allergies, consult with your doctor. You might need referral to an allergist. As a pharmacist, I can also answer your questions about allergy medications and point you to over-the-counter products in the store that may help ease symptoms.

Axline Pharmacy, Bloomington’s newest pharmacy, is independently owned and offers free delivery. Pharmacists Rob Bean and Troy Williams are committed to their patients and have initiated the NCPA’s “Simplify My Meds” program. You may contact them by calling 309-828-6767 or stop by 1210 Towanda Ave.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

Sources upon request
Photo credit: picapez/iStock