Are kids allergic to more now than they were 30yrs ago?

I don’t remember so many kids being (supposedly) allergic to :
Any and everything else.

When did this change?

I keep picturing 40yr old men waking up one day 30 years from now and deciding “Fuck it, I’m having a PBJ for once goddamnit!” and finding out they aren’t really allergic.

Gluten allergies aren’t (usually) really allergies per se. Celiac disease can easily be mistaken for just overeating or whatever; you’ll feel bloated and yucky after eating but won’t seize up with anaphylactic shock. It’s relatively recently that we’ve found ways to figure out that there’s actually serious damage being done to the cilia of the intestines by gluten in those with celiac disease and that this contributes to not just feeling nasty but also raises the incidence of cancer.

I suspect a lot of kids with severe, true food allergies didn’t survive to adulthood back in the day. Eat your PB&J and the kid keeled over, maybe he choked on it…?

Food allergies can be outgrown; they can also be developed later in life. The classic later-developing one is shellfish, but there are others too.

I’ve taught 5 years in Michigan and had ~650 students in those years.

I have had zero students with serious allergies. Zero.

For what it is worth. Oh, and we have no peanut allergy restrictions or anything, either.

I am 57.5 years old. I had allergies as a child but there was no allergy testing then so no possible way to determine what I was allergic to. My parental units were told to wrap my arms and legs with rags, then warp card board over that and finally wrap the card board with rags so that I didn’t scratch myself silly as a child. I went to bed like a little robot child.

I am allergic to cats, dogs, birds, horses, pigs, cigarettes, synthetic fibers, wool, whatever is in most makeup, all scented products , pollen etc. Foods don’t seem to bother me.

My Dad, born in 1927, had major allergies as well.

My daughter is severely allergic to foods. She got hives that wrapped around her limbs and caused her to start wheezing when milk was spilled on the surface of her skin. Her eyes swelled closed and she ended up in the ER when peanut butter was made in her kindergarten classroom. She did not come in contact with the PB. She got hives if she was kissed on the cheek by her bearded dad after he ate eggs.

I’ve always felt certain that if there is an apocalypse my family will be the first to go.

In my opinion things changed when we found out what we were allergic to. Prior to that it was just ???

Who the heck is allergic to chicken and fish??

Partly it seems to have been that allergies weren’t as well diagnosed or cared for. Partly it does seem that allergies are on the rise (possibly also other auto-immune disorders, though I don’t really know). It seems to have a genetic component (certainly in my daughter’s case). The New Yorker recently had an interesting article on recent developments in allergy studies, if you’re interested. You might like the bit where the doctor decides to prove through research that allergies are psychosomatic, feeds a girl egg disguised in food, and is completely astounded when she promptly gets very ill indeed.

Food allergies do actually exist, and blaming them on hysterical mothers is not really helpful. It’s really kind of a hassle and not the sort of thing we indulge in because we want attention.

A lot of people do blame mothers for allergies; either we’ve made it up because we are overprotective and hysterical, or we’ve caused the allergies by being overprotective and hysterical. My own theory is that people do this as a defense mechanism. If something scary and difficult to understand like allergies can be blamed on bad parenting, then it won’t happen to you, because you are (or would be) a good parent. Exactly the same thing, though much more vicious, happens to parents with children who struggle with mental issues from ADHD to severe mental illness. It used to happen with homosexuality and autism too (well, autism still gets blamed on parenting, but not in the same way).

I have a friend who is in his late 30’s who is allergic to protein. Seriously it’s crazy. He can deal with limited amounts at a time but if he eats anything with protein and then increases his metabolism at all his airways swell and he stops breathing. The irony is he’s a dedicated athlete and in fantastic shape, but if he eats so much as a banana before a workout it could kill him.

He can’t take a nice after dinner stroll unless dinner consisted of the very few items his wife has cleared as protein free.

I think (no cite) that the increase in allergies is based on at least a couple factors. One is probably the increase in awareness and survivability of allergic reactions and another the changes in the number of substances we’re now exposed to. Kids eat a much more diverse diet and are exposed to more chemical substances than they ever have been before.

One last thing - they’re not all allergies, that’s a convenient label that people understand that we stick on a wide variety of medical reactions. I had surgery a couple of years ago and was given morphine in the recovery room. I was soon covered by a very itchy rash. The doctor explained that since I tolerate codiene with no issues some would say that I love it more than my own brother that it probably wasn’t an allergy but that it was safer to put that on my chart. So now I’m allergic (but not really) to morphine.

I do think there are more allergic kids, but I also think the reaction to allergies is become more of a fail safe

As I’ve said, I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve been allergic to something, then it goes away. I had HUGE hives all over. I even was tested at Mayo in Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

No one ever found out what I was allergic to. But in six months it’d go away.

The thing is, now if you get a little rash after eating, say peanut butter, you’re told to avoid it all together.

I had huge hive, it would cause my eyes to blacken, my lips would swell and today I’d be diagnosed with anaphylaxis, but I never had one bit of trouble breathing. I I would deal with it.

But I also think we’re more urbanized which exposes kids to more and parents don’t let their kids play and get dirty as much as they did. An actually allergy is an immune system reaction. It’s a reaction to something that shouldn’t be

For instance, you can’t be allergic to peanut butter the first time you eat it. You would have to eat it and have your body’s immune system mistake it for something else. Then your immune system would build a response to it, so the SECOND time you eat peanut butter, your immune system attacks it.

So I do think more kids are allergic, but allergies also have a huge proportion. You can be allergic to something, and just get a slight rash or whatever, that you can cope with. Every allergic reaction is not a life threatening ER type of thing.

But because of fear of lawsuits etc, doctors and such have made it into this.

This isn’t to say it doesn’t exist, but as most things in life, it’s undoubtedly a combination of a lot of things.

My daughter is allergic to chicken, but not fish, she loves sushi. And just to round out the picture my husband and son have no allergies at all.

I seriously don’t believe my daughter would have survived childhood if she had been born several decades earlier. Before we found out what she was allergic to (just about everything) her entire skin surface was an open oozing sore. When I took her out as a child (rarely) random strangers would ask me if she was a burn victim.

Every night when she finally slept her oozing skin would dry on the sheets of her bed and when she awoke in the morning and lifted her head her skin would peal off. I have pictures of her in her best and not so best condition and they are still heartbreaking to say the least.

If I told you what she could eat and couldn’t eat that cleared up her condition in less than six weeks you wouldn’t believe me, hahhahaha.

The rate of allergies are increasing. They are increasing more in developed countries than in developing countries, urban areas more than rural areas, rich neighborhoods more than slums, and more in only children than in children from large families.

Two ideas about this unequal rise in allergy rates are the Hygiene Hypothesis and the Old Friends Hypothesis.

The Hygiene Hypothesis is basically that exposure to dirt and infection helps the immune system develop normally, and if a kid is raised without enough dirt and bugs, their immune system might not mature properly.

The Old Friends Hypothesis, which is a new spin on the Hygiene Hypothesis, is that there are certain, harmless microorganisms that have been living with us for so long that they help train your immune system not to react to harmless things like pollen or bananas.

You could explain the above in a much more complicated and complete immunological manner, but that is the basic gist.

(who took her immunology final yesterday)

So how did I have one kid with major allergies and one kid without any both living in the same environment? And why did I have allergies. I grew up in the 50’s and the 60’s as a free range kid. I was one of five kids and the only one with allergies. Where did my Dad get his allergies? He was certainly not living the high life while shoveling coal into his parental units’ house.

My friend Matt. He’s 35.

My guess is that all that is probabilities and frequency; it can’t possibly account for everything. My own daughter started showing signs of allergies at 6 months, practically as soon as she started eating solids. Given my less-than-stellar housekeeping methods and the fact that we live in a smaller, rural town and spend a lot of time outside on Grandma’s farm, I don’t think we can blame her allergies on my paranoiac cleaning habits. Her sister has no allergies at all.

And yep, my kid is allergic to some kinds of fish. I’ve never dared try shellfish on her. She showed a reaction to PB and to pistachios the first time she was exposed to them. Other reactions, such as bananas and soy, have developed over time. She has outgrown a milk allergy (which manifested with her first milk exposure at 10 months) but nothing else.

The New Yorker article says allergists are now theorizing that one reason undeveloped countries have fewer allergies is because mothers, not having food mills or baby food in jars, still pre-chew their babies’ food, introducing lots of lovely digestive enzymes and stuff into the mix. I must say that idea never occurred to me.

Say what? I’m 61-1/2 and I had allergy tests when I was 6, and then allergy shots for the next 6 or 7 years until puberty. I was allergic in varying degrees to milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, chocolate, and animal dander (including wool and lanolin), and probably other things I don’t remember. If I got sick, like with a cold, I (was told that I) was allergic to my own antibodies.

However, I was the only one in my grade school (maybe 500 kids) that I knew of who had extensive allergies like that. And it wasn’t a problem for me to be in the same room with someone’s PBJ sandwich or anything like that. For the food allergies, I had to actually eat it to suffer any serious problem.

Most of my allergies were resolved either by the allergy shots or by puberty (I tend toward the latter view). I am still allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and animal dander. Oh yeah, and stress. Seriously, this is why I am so mellow, because stress makes me itch.

There is also a multi-factorial genetic component (which I didn’t mention, because I thought we were talking about increasing rates of allergies in the past 30 years, and how much has genetics changed in 30 years anyway) - if a kid has one parent with allergies, they have a 35% chance of having allergies, and if they have both parents with allergies, they have a 65% chance of having allergies. So I would guess, in your kids case, and your case, and your dad’s case - genetics?

I’m glad you got allergy testing as a child. My parents probably weren’t in the same group as yours. We only went to the Dr. as a last resort. Heck our Pediatrician made house calls and if my parental units called him he was there in under an hour because they were so crazy conservative about going to or calling the Dr.

My daughter with the wicked peanut allergy did not have a problem with PBJ sandwiches in the room. It was only when they made PB in the classroom that she had a problem. Dang, I still eat PBJ sandwiches several times a week.

My main point in posting was to reject your hypothesis that:

My Dad had allergies, I have allergies although reared free range, my daughter has allergies (and I didn’t keep the cleanest of houses) her kid has allergies.

What proof do you have that the Hygiene Hypothesis or the Old Friends Hypothesis is more likely than that there is just a genetic effect?

My hypothesis is that people have genetically been born with allergies forever. In times gone by they died. In post-industrial ages with good medical care allergy prone folks survive and reproduce begetting more allergy prone spawn.

I think her proof is that that is what she was just taught in her immunology class this semester. Your hypothesis doesn’t explain why allergy rates are going up faster with wealthy, urban, single children.

It’s not trying to explain all allergies. Clearly, there is a genetic component. It’s trying to explain why there are more now, and why in specific subgroups. It’s quite possible, for example, that a genetic pre-disposition to allergies might be genetic, but other things act as triggers in some cases–but in other cases, the genetic pre-disposition is so strong that there is no avoiding the inevitable allergies.

peanut allergies are like the worst!


I’m not sure someone with egg allergies would agree.

(What does “the worst” mean?)