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Why are food allergies more common in children than adults?

Ms. Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Many children outgrow their allergies before they reach adulthood, but there is an increase in the number of children developing food allergies. There are various theories about why, however, none of these are established. Some of the theories include:

  1. Clean theory/hypothesis—children are growing up in an environment that is too clean.
  2. One theory is that the Western diet has made people more susceptible to developing allergies and other illnesses.
  3. The decrease in richness of gut bacteria in Westerners may have something to do with the rise in allergies in industrialized countries, said Dr. Paolo Lionetti of the department of pediatrics at Meyer Children Hospital at the University of Florence.
  4. Another theory is that children need to get exposed to common allergens, such as nuts and shellfish, from a much earlier age, to avoid developing allergies. Some doctors have been recommending waiting until 2 or 3, but Ferdman at Children's Hospital Los Angeles is a proponent of giving kids nuts very early.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.