The study was conducted in the UK and looked at over 600 three month olds that were exclusively breastfed from birth. The study was looking at extending previous findings from another study that found that people with a skin problem such as eczema do not have adequate protection to environmental allergens. This new study found that babies with a skin barrier problem, especially eczema, were six times more likely to have a sensitivity to certain foods. The study found that egg whites were the most common allergen sensitivity followed by cow’s milk and peanuts. They also found that the worse the case of eczema was the more likely the baby was to have a food sensitivity.
What Does This Mean?
Until now it has been thought that food allergies were developed in the gut, but this study is saying that they instead may actually develop through immune cells in the skin. The researchers did point out that having eczema did not guarantee that a baby would have a food sensitivity, but it was far more likely that they would. They feel that more research needs to be done, but this could be a break through that could help us find a way to prevent food allergies from starting.
My Personal Thoughts
When I read about this study last week it was like a light bulb went off. I personally feel that this is an amazing discovery, and I feel that the researchers are on the right track. To me it all makes complete sense. I have heard that one of the reasons they think food allergies are becoming more common is because our society is becoming so clean. By constantly washing and sanitizing our bodies are reacting more to the foreign things that enter our bodies. In other words, while we’re working better to keep from getting sick one way we’re actually causing worse problems in another way. I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t do what we need to stay clean, but you can see how a foreign substance would freak our bodies out in such a sterile environment. Then you have this study which makes it all come together. We’re having problems because we’re clean, and then you have something like eczema that is ruining our bodies last natural defense system, our skin, so our bodies can no longer handle and fight against allergens. It all makes sense!
For us personally it makes sense as well. By the time Nick was only a few weeks old he had terrible eczema. We had to put medication and special eczema lotion on it twice a day. In fact it was pretty bad for almost his entire first year. Plus Nick had a reaction to eggs right from the start. They say you sometimes can eat a food a few times before a reaction occurs, but that wasn’t the case with Nick. He ate the egg and his body sent out a warning right then and there.
To me this is an amazing study, but I personally think that they need to conduct the study on infants that are exclusively formula fed as well to see if the same results occur. While the babies in the study weren’t eating any of the food allergy foods they still could have been developing a sensitivity due to what is coming through the breast milk from what their mother’s had eaten. I think we all know a baby that got sick from things in breast milk that caused the mother to have to change her diet. I still think this study is a huge break through in our understanding of food allergies though, and I hope that it will lead us to finding a way to prevent them.