Monday, March 25, 2013

What-Causes-Food-Allergies March Madness!

It's time to fill in your bracket and take your shot! (And, with 3 million kids in the US alone, that's an awfully big pool!)

Vaccines!

Always in the Top 8. Maybe it’s the peanut oil, even though peanut oil carries miniscule amounts of protein, even when it’s not highly purified. The timing is suspicious, too. After all, kids get allergy shots at the same time they’re developing allergies…
And the bracket winner is…



GMO Foods!
GMO Foods!

Another perennial contender. After all, shouldn’t a food cause a food allergy? The timing is suspicious (early 90’s introduction for many GMO foods).  And God knows Monsanto and other big Agra are sleazy…maybe to the point of not caring about our kids?

vs.

Tylenol!

A surprise contender, as many parents trust the J&J brand more than Disney. However, acetaminophen has been implicated in other inflammation-linked disorders, including asthma and eczema. 
And the bracket winner is…




Tylenol!
Breastfeeding!

Another entry in the category of "food causes food allergies" is breastfeeding. One recent study found a correlation between it and a higher rate of allergies. (Pediatricians, too!) But if that was all there was to the story, wouldn't every baby who breastfed become allergic? Does it make sense that Mother Nature would set up a system so maladaptive? 

vs.


The immune system gets...bored? Really? 100,000 years of human evolution and there's never been a time when the immune system had some down-time? O.k... 
And the bracket winner is…




Smoking, Obesity and/or High Salt Diets!

Or any other epigenetically-influencing environmental factor that's changed drastically between last generation and this one. Now you really can blame your parents for ruining your life.

vs.

Microbiome-Changing Chemicals Including Triclosan!

Obviously a must-have choice for my own bracket, triclosan has both impressive research and a possible mechanism to explains food allergies going for it.  Will it go all the way this year?
And the bracket winner is…


Microbiome-Changing Chemicals Including Triclosan!
Environmental Contaminants, include PAHs

One of the hot topics at this year's AAAAI: can air pollution cause food allergies? Cigarette smoke is one source, but so are barbecue grills. 

vs.

Global Warming! Or Sunscreen!

Really! Changes in our atmosphere may be leading to changes in how children absorb Vitamin D.  Or, it may just be that this generation of parents has slathered on the sunscreen (with new chemicals in the 90s that do a better job of blocking rays).  
And the bracket winner is…




Global Warming! Or Sunscreen!
Infectious Disease!

Maybe it's a virus! Specifically (according to some researchers) respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. We know kids are wheezier after a bout of RSV...but does it really up the risk of sensitization?


vs.

Bad Landscaping!

One interesting theory of how sensitization occurs is through exposure to pollen. So what's changed about pollen lately? Landscapers are using more and more plants that are not native to the areas in which they're being planted, resulting in exposure to new types of pollen.
And the bracket winner is…




Money!
Money!

Did you know that, the higher your income, the more likely your kid is to have a food allergy? Are richer kids simply diagnosed more? Or might it be the new carpets and new paint wealthier parents often introduce into the nursery before Baby is born?

vs.

Refrigerators! 

Guess what? Bacteria evolve to adjust to new environments, and one of the harshest new environments we've provided to our bacteria is the refrigerator. Listeria and other bacteria have risen to the challenge, though, and many doctors now believe this "superbug" may be the cause of Crohn's and other intestinal disorders. Is food allergies one of them?
And the bracket winner is…




Refrigerators!
Detection Bias!

There are still some scientists who believe that this is really all about overdiagnosis. Their argument? They cite the 11% of the population of "sensitized" (allergic on a test only) to peanut vs. the 2-3% who actually demonstrate an allergy when fed peanut. More allergists = more testing = more false diagnoses. 

vs.


Pesticides!

Oh...and your tap water too. Dichlorophenols are just about everywhere! Oh, and guess what! There's plans to make a new genetically-modified corn bred to be resistant to them...so farmers can spray them all over our food. GREAT idea! 
And the bracket winner is…




A Dark Horse from Somewhere No One Has Ever Heard Of...
A Dark Horse from Somewhere No One Has Ever Heard Of...

Maybe there's a scrappy little causative agent out there that has a lot of HEART and really wants to get in the GAME and TAKE this thing! YEAH! 


Did you make your picks?

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