Vitamin D linked with Food Allergies?
Children deficient in vitamin D at age one are more likely to have food allergies, but only if their parents are born in Australia. This is based on researcher’s findings in Melbourne, Australia.
In a study of 5000 children, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that one-year-olds with vitamin D deficiency were 3 times more likely to have a food allergy than those whose levels were adequate.
Children with two or more allergies were 10 times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, according to the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The lead researcher said there was some evidence that vitamin D could play an important role in regulating a child’s immune system in the first year of life. It was likely that reduced diversity of bacteria in the gut due to increased hygiene explained the current food allergy epidemic, with vitamin D and an infant’s diet also plays a crucial factor.
Vitamin D deficiency was linked to food allergies only in children of Australian-born parents, which could be because they may have more diverse gut microbes.
”I personally think the hygiene hypothesis is very critical but in that context I think there’s a second factor, which is vitamin D and what we eat in first year of life.”
”It’s probably the two coming together at a critical moment in history which has driven this quite bizarre situation in the past 20 years where food allergies are on the rise.”
Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergy in the world, affecting more than 10% of infants.
Australia also had one of the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency, and was one of the few countries that did not fortify foods with vitamin D or provide supplements to infants.
”This study provides the first direct evidence vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life. We’re excited by these results, because what this suggests is there may be a modifiable factor that we can actually change and do something about to turn back the tide in the food allergy epidemic.”
Food allergies are obviously a concern to new parents and their young children. Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies.
From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years, in the U.S. From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years.
These numbers alone, represent the alarming epidemic of food allergies that are affecting people of every age and on every continent of the world. Not only are children in danger of potential allergic reactions but, parents are the responsible parties that have to take precautions and manage their child’s everyday diet.