Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Will the New Little Prince or Princess of Cambridge Have Food Allergies?

Yes, this entire column is just an
excuse to post these photos
I admit it. My guilty pleasure is reading all the British royalty news about the new Ruler of the Seas To Be. But a line in an article the other day caught my eye:
"A hospital porter added...'they have been cleaning the floor inside and outside of the ward. They've re-painted.'" 
I might be the only person in the world who would immediately think of food allergies upon reading that...but it's not as far-fetched as you think.

There are definitely some provocative associations when it comes to allergies, and exposure to new nursery paint is one of them.  Boy babies exposed to new paint and fungus during the first six months of their lives had several times the rate of eczema that daughters without these exposures did. (Eczema is often a precursor to food allergies.)

Love the bored flower girl!
So what else might predispose the young prince or princess to become one of our fold?

  • Hospital delivery, especially if C-section: one can assume they will be taking no risks with the life of the future Head of the Commonwealth, so the odds of Kate having a c-section (especially since this is a first baby) are high. While results are not conclusive, the systematic review of studies for c-section and food allergy have shown an association. The lack of exposure to flora in the birth canal, resulting in poor gastrointestinal colonization of helpful bacteria, may be the culprit. Some doctors even go so far as to swab the insides of the mother's whoo-haa and then place it in the baby's mouth to combat this issue!
  • Avoiding allergens during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding: in 2011, Kate and Will made news with Peanutgate when the media jumped to the conclusion that Kate must be pregnant because she was avoiding eating peanut paste. While it turned out she was not pregnant at that time, this pervasive idea that avoiding allergens during pregnancy lessens the chance of developing allergies in the newborn is a very bad one. No way to know if she avoided once she was pregnant...but eating potential allergens during pregnancy appears to be more protective than problematic.
  • Issues with vitamin deficiency/supplementation: we know Kate had hyperemesis gravidarum, or life-threatening morning sickness. No doubt she was given vitamin supplements to make up for all the illness in her early months. Unfortunately, vitamin supplementation (and in particular, vitamin D) has been associated with an increase in food allergies
So, all in all, Kate and Will are pretty screwed. Their kid will almost certainly have allergies, and may very well join the ranks of the almost 1 in 12 British kids who have a food allergy. While it would likely be a nightmare for the British Royal Protection team tasked with keeping the future little Protector of the Faith safe, it would certainly raise awareness for the rest of us! 

Kate - if you need any help with shopping or recipes, I'm here for you. When addressing me, please make sure you use the Bitch. It's part of my title, after all.

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