New research suggests that skin may be the key to figuring out why food allergies are on the rise. Specifically, broken or damaged skin exposed to some allergens.
Research from a new study may shed light on not only why food allergies are on the rise, but also their link to skin conditions such as eczema early in life as well as the "hygiene hypothesis" for food allergy's increase.
Six million children in the U.S. have food allergies and links to eczema and other skin conditions are well known.
The "hygiene hypothesis" says that early exposure to germs can positively impact a child's immune system and lessens risks of food allergy later in childhood. Research has shown this may be a factor, however, other research contradicts that hypothesis. In this most recent case of allergy research and skin conditions, however, it may help support but not prove the hygiene hypothesis.
Dr. Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, pediatrician and researcher at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago says that the findings in this latest research can support the hygiene hypothesis, but not directly. The study showed that children with multiple siblings are far less likely to develop a food allergy. The study also found, however, that children who'd had skin conditions such as eczema or other incidences where skin was fractured (cut, scraped, etc) and then were exposed to foods, have a higher chance of becoming allergic to some of those foods.
The findings saw that exposure through skin may have implications for allergy later in life.
The study included 1,359 participants, aged from birth to 21 years of age. Genetic makeup was similar, helping reduce racial or large genome factors from the study. The study considered hygiene, antibiotic use, infection history, breastfeeding, and other factors as well.