With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

29 January 2009

Let Them Eat...Dirt?

Have you had a chance to read the new book by Mary Ruebush, “Why Dirt Is Good”? It's about the whole hygiene hypothesis and sounds like interesting reading. Check out the review by the New York Times, Babies Know...a Little Dirt is Good for You. One doctor quoted in the article states "'Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat,” he said. '" I do think there is some truth to this, but eating with dirty hands? That would be a change for us!


Jenny said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for the link. The hygiene hypothesis regarding autoimmune is gaining more ground lately, but I have trouble with it, because I don't have empirical evidence for it in my life.

When my oldest (severely allergic) daughter was a baby, I knew so much less about "germs" than I do now, and did not even use Purell, etc. By the time I had my second child, we had a lot more firsthand knowledge with childhood illness, etc. and so I became more "hygenic." The youngest, exposed to the "cleaner" home, has no known allergies.

I also remember reading a post on a message board from someone with a severe nut allergy who grew up on a farm, (a factor that this story claims will innoculate against disease) who said that the "playing in the dirt" thesis clearly didn't apply to him.

Who knows what the truth is? A lot more research needs to be done, so thanks for updating us on this latest theory.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jenny, for your thoughtful comment.

I wonder if the hygiene theory is partly true , but in a long-term sort of way? I mean, maybe it took 3 generations of getting "cleaner" to create these immunological problems? I have no idea. All I know is, we have to live with the food allergies--for now anyways!--and maybe in another decade, there'll be a cure or a treatment. Wouldn't that be great?!

Vivian Mahoney said...

Oh, so interesting! I've heard about this, but didn't have a chance to read it. I'll go check it out now!


TxMom said...

Funny -- I just wrote about the hygiene hypothesis, too (http://foodallergyfamilyfun.blogspot.com/2009/01/sick-of-hearing-about-hygiene.html). The same NYT article prompted it.

Unknown said...

Vivian and Leigha, thanks for your comments. Just goes to show you how widely read the New York Times is! Lots of good info there.

Karen said...

The let them play in dirt thing has been in and out of fashion for a while now. With food allergies in my family I allowed my children to play in dirt, extended breastfeeding into toddler years, yet I still have one child with allergies. I do however believe she would have more or more severe allergies, or my youngest would have allergies if I didn't do this as EVERYONE has allergies in my extended family.

Anonymous said...

My mother and sister both have food allergies but my sons are more severe. I remember as a kid my Mom having an anaphlatic reaction in a restaurant because of a shellfish allergy. My Mom was born in 1933. She tells about HER grandmother having food allergies.

I think food allergies are more prevalent because kids are surviving allergies. My Mom tells me that kids when she was little died sometimes of "unknown causes". Could some of this be food allergies?? She also talked about my sister throwing up for most of her childhood. (My sister was born in 1948) My Mom has said that there were just sickly kids back then. I think part of the food allergy explosion is plain having more information and diagnostic tools

Unknown said...

Thanks Karen and Punkymama. Interesting points you brought up, Punkymama. I am sure there is some truth to that.

Anonymous said...

I've looked at the "hygiene theory" and it really has no merit. In the US the Hispanic population has a lower rate of food allergies. In Israel they don't have peanut allergies. There the children are getting sesame allergies. They eat lots of peanuts. The Israelis in the UK get peanut allergies the same as the rest of the children in the UK.

One thing that I was shocked to learn when I was searching the Internet was that vaccines are exempt from listing all the ingredients on the package insert. Search under "trade secret" and you can verify this for yourself. Then do another search at the patent website. Search on patent, peanut oil, vaccine, adjuvant. You will find many patents for vaccine adjuvants.

If you search the vaccine package inserts on-line, you can read what is there. "Aluminum adjuvant" may be listed or it may just say "adsorbed on 0.25 mg aluminum as aluminum hydroxide". No where will it say "peanut oil" or mixture of peanut, sesame, wheat germ, soy, shellfish, and fish oils.

These are very pure oils but I looked into that, too. There is no way the oils cannot have a trace of food protein in them.

The aluminum enhances the body's immune response to all the protein in the vaccine.

I am not saying that vaccines are the only cause of food allergies, but I am saying it is a major cause of food allergies.

When I was a kid, we got two vaccinations. Now children get 48 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6. And that is precisely the age group that is coming down with the most food allergies.

Unknown said...

Barb, thank you for your thoughtful and interesting comment. It certainly makes you wonder.