The rise of childhood allergies since 1991

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies

Aw-Choo! The current issue of Lancet (www.thelancet.com) has a series of article on allergies. In one article, it was reported that childhood allergies have become more widespread around the globe since 1991. The most common allergies are hay fever, asthma, and eczema. A study in the U.K. of 1,700 children found asthma prevalence went up from 18.4% in 1991 to 20.9% in 2003 - for the same period hay fever prevalence went up from 9.8% to 10.1% and eczema rose from 13% to 16%.

Professor Innes Asher and his colleagues repeated a 1991 study called The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) to asses global prevalence of asthma, hay fever and eczema. In the investigation, 193,400 children, aged 6-7, from 37 different countries were monitored for symptoms of asthma and other allergies, such as wheezing. The researchers used feedback from the children's parents for this study. Another 304,680 children, aged 13-14, from 56 different countries, were surveyed directly with the same questions. The study included children from developing countries, such as Brazil, South Africa and Iran, as well as developed countries, such as the UK, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand.

The researchers found that: Rises in prevalence were more common than falls - especially among younger children Eczema has become more widespread worldwide among younger children Hay fever has become more prevalent globally among all age-groups Asthma prevalence among older kids, which had previously been high, more commonly decreased The study in Lancet did not surprise me: my two older children have exercise-induced asthma. However, you do wonder if there is something other than taking medicine that you can do for allergies. What environmental stimuli have contributed to this condition? How can they be changed to reduce allergies? I don't know, but maybe you have some ideas.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.