Side Orders: Food allergy may require lifelong diligence

Anne Braly
photo Anne Braly

We're hearing about food allergies more than ever these days. Gluten, peanut butter, dairy, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs the list goes on and is so confusing we need to step back and take a look at what may be causing the onslaught of allergies.

And it's not just all in our heads.

The Centers for Disease Control reports an 18% increase in food allergies in children between 1997 and 2007, says registered dietitian Danielle Townsend with Primary Healthcare Center. In addition, she continues, a 2013 study showed a 50% increase between 1997 and 2011.

"Food allergies typically rear their ugly heads within the first two years of life," Townsend says. "If parents are not exposing their would-be toddlers to these foods, for fear of the child having an allergic reaction, they are essentially missing the window for the child to desensitize themselves and try to prevent the allergy from developing in the first place."