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Picky eaters

Picky eater children more prone to allergies due to food repetition, suggest studies

Saturday, December 10, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: picky eaters, children, allergies

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(NaturalNews) The World Health Organization (WHO) and various other so-called health authorities suggest that mothers breastfeed their babies for up to six months and avoid feeding them certain "high-risk" foods in order to prevent allergies. But several new studies suggest that withholding a diversity of foods from children, as well as allowing them to be picky eaters as they grow up, could actually be a cause of allergies.

The UK's Telegraph reports that three large studies -- one out of King's College in London, one from Cambridge University, and another from Duke University in North Carolina -- challenge conventional wisdom on how children develop allergies. Avoiding high-allergy foods like peanuts, eggs, and strawberries during childhood appears to actually bring about food allergies, while consuming small amounts of these foods during early development could help prevent them.

"There is a possibility that we were achieving the reverse of our intentions through this avoidance policy," said Professor Gideon Lack from King's College to the journal Nature. Lack added that "wrap[ping] the infant up in a sort of immunological cocoon and not expos[ing] them to proteins that could launch allergic reactions" just might be a primary reason why some children develop allergies in the first place.

A previous study conducted by Lack seems to confirm this hypothesis, having shown that Jewish children living in the UK are about ten times more likely to develop a peanut allergy than Jewish children living in Israel. Israeli children, of course, eat and are exposed to far more peanut products than children in the UK, and yet their rate of peanut allergy is far lower (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordo...).

For their current analysis, researchers have been tracking 640 babies, half of whom were deemed to be prone to food allergies, to see how peanut exposure affects allergy development. Based on their previous research, they had already found that repeated exposure to small amounts of peanut flour among peanut-allergy children actually eliminated the allergy in most of them by the end of the trial period, while those not exposed tended to have their allergies exacerbated.

The same holds true for children who eat very narrow and picky diets. Constantly eating the same types of foods while avoiding others can promote allergies of the avoided foods. But when children eat a multitude of varied foods starting at a young age, they tend to develop a natural "immunity" against allergies.

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