Why do so many children have food allergies?

Posted at 1:18 PM, Feb 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-26 18:13:03-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Do you or your children suffer with a food allergy? Did your parents? Did their parents? Food allergies among children jumped 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A blog called Butter Nutrition raised the question, “Why your grandparents didn’t have food allergies, but you do.” The blog spelled out several theories on what could be the trigger behind the spike in children's allergies.

Dr. Bob Call with Richmond Allergy & Asthma Specialists, called the theories non-scientific, but hard to ignore.


What we eat

He said in his practice he has seen allergy cases double over the last 10 years. Sixty percent of practice are children, the youngest patient is just three weeks old.

"There are many more additives,thickeners, all of these different proteins that are added to food even chemicals can become an allergen,” Dr. Call said about the theory that the food we eat these days contains more preservatives, thus causes more allergies.


"We're obtaining all of our food from the store. We're not growing our own. We're not hunting our own. We're going out buying this processed food."


Where we live

Dr. Call said home improvements could also contribute to rising allergy rates.

"Back in the old days, the indoors was so drafty and windy. The outdoors was the indoors. But now homes are tighter. So, if you have mold in your house or air ducts then exposure is going to be greater, greater and greater,” he said.


What we take

Dr. Call said one theory is that since more children are taking antibiotics, their immune system has nothing to do and it's not fighting infection.

While doctors admit that no one knows for sure what is behind the rise in food allergies, the reality is allergies are changing the lives of families who must now study food labels for ingredients that could trigger a reaction.

Share your food allergy theories or family's food allergy experience with us. Click here to email the CBS 6 newsroom.