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The perfect storm for infant food allergies

August 19, 2018

Researchers have found that overexposure to baby wipes and soap could mean newborns have a greater chance of developing a food allergy.

The 2000 movie “The Perfect Storm” tells the true story of a fishing boat that was lost at sea. The crew (Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly) and captain (George Clooney) decided to risk sailing through bad weather to get home faster, but when two rogue fronts turned the weather from bad to hurricane, their ship was done for.

Now, a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reveals that another sort of perfect storm can radically increase a child’s chance of developing food allergies.

Researchers working with mice found that if newborns are genetically predisposed to allergy (if they have allergic parents or have other allergies or eczema); are frequently exposed to soap and baby wipes (they weaken the skin’s germ-fighting powers, especially for neonates predisposed to having a vulnerable skin barrier); and then are exposed to a food such as peanuts, the chances of developing an allergy to that food increase dramatically.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get your child tested if that perfect storm of risks applies. And for all infants, don’t overuse baby wipes, hand sanitizers and soaps that weaken tender skin’s ability to block out allergens. Also remember to wash your hands and rinse your mouth well after eating a potential allergen like peanut or whey, so it isn’t inadvertently transferred to your infant. Then, if your child doesn’t show signs of allergies by 6 months, it’s probably safe to start introducing peanut protein, for example, but always talk to your pediatrician first.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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