Secondhand Smoke-Allergy Risk

New research suggests that young children who have been exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing allergies. Reuters is on it:
Experts have known that exposure to secondhand smoke either prenatally or early in life can raise a child's risk of developing asthma symptoms. But the evidence regarding allergies in general has been mixed.

In the new study, Swedish researchers found that 4-year-olds who had been exposed to parents' smoking during early infancy were at greater risk of allergies to indoor allergens like dust mites and cat dander. They were also at greater risk of food allergies.

It's possible that secondhand smoke triggers inflammation in the lining of young children's airways, which may sensitize them to allergy-triggering substances, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Eva Lannero of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Allergies: Too Scared for School

School children from Vaughan, Ontario are too scared to go to school. Why? Eggs and peanuts. ParentDish is on it:
St. Stephen Catholic School had been screening students' lunches to make certain that none of these foods were brought to school, but stopped. The school board contends that it is impossible to check every child's lunchbox, but the parents of the allergic students say that the school had been doing just that, ever since it opened in 2002. They just want the school to reinstitute the checks it was doing previously.

"At school," said one eleven-year-old, "I'm afraid because I don't really know some of the food with eggs and milk look like, and most of the time the kids won't spot it because if it's like a candy or something, they'll just eat it." A complaint has been filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission claiming discrimination against the kids.

The Peanut Gallery on Peanut Allergies

“Allergies are increasing because women do not breast feed long enough,” Dr. Fuhrman responded when I asked him to comment on this report claiming peanut allergies in children are on the rise. Andrew Stern of Reuters has more:

Allergies to peanuts and other foods are showing up in children at younger ages for reasons that are not clear, researchers said on Monday, and some urged parents to postpone exposing susceptible children to peanuts.

In a study of 140 children with peanut allergies, the median age of the first allergic reaction was 14 months among those born between 2000 and 2005, compared to 22 to 24 months among allergic children born between 1988 and 1999.

"There's a valid reason to delay introduction to products containing peanuts," said Dr. Todd Green of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Fuhrman couldn’t agree less. “It is not delaying peanut introduction that will solve this problem, it is delaying the unhealthful cessation of breast feeding at too young an age,” Dr. Fuhrman points out. He talks more about it in Disease-Proof Your Child:

The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.

What really surprised me is according to Dr. Fuhrman roasting peanuts actually increase their allergen potency. Maybe it’ll make parents think twice before they slather peanut butter and jelly on two slices of white bread and shoo their kids off to school.