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CDC: 50% increase in childhood allergies 1997-2011; reasons "unclear"

Feb 6, 2018, Reading (PA) Eagle: Is a too-clean childhood behind spike in allergies? http://www.readingeagle.com/voices/article/is-a-too-clean-childhood-behind-spike-in-allergies Nowadays, it seems that wherever we turn, allergies are staring us in the face. From the prevalence of gluten-free items appearing on menus to the banning of peanuts in some school lunches, we are more aware of food allergies than any other generation. Is this because more kids have allergies today than ever before? In short, the answer is yes - or, at least, more kids have allergies today that we know of. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of children with food allergies increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. The CDC also states that peanut and tree nut allergies tripled in children from the U.S. between 1997 and 2008. These numbers are staggering. ... What makes the increased prevalence of food allergies in children so puzzling is when we stop to ask why. The answer? Well, even scientists aren't sure. According to a PBS interview with Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern Medicine and director of the Science and Outcomes of Allergy and Asthma Research Team, there are several theories why more children have allergies. These theories state the possibility that children are too clean, so their immune systems are fighting things they shouldn't be fighting, such as food, instead of fighting the germs they used to fight. Dr. Gupta says that other theories consider our Western diet and the use of pesticides and other chemicals, which could be changing our gut flora. Clearly, the reason for our increase in allergies is, well, unclear. …