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Britain tops the international league table for allergies

(28 Posts)
Upwind Mon 24-Sep-07 09:01:08

"...an international study of asthma and allergies in childhood published in the Lancet showed that 47 per cent of UK children – 3.5million – suffer from some form of allergy and Britain tops the international league table for allergies.

The study's lead author, Professor Innes Asher, of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, blamed diet, air pollution and excessive cleanliness for the epidemic."

from the telegraph

So what can we do to make our dcs less likely to have allergies? What is wrong with the UK diet, too much processed food? If air pollution is causing such serious problems what can be done to reduce it?

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 09:15:11

Allergies run in my family, though I am not particularly affected.

However, the paedaetrician here in France has pointed out just how fine and delicate my daughter's skin is, and has attributed her slight eczema to that. It is true that many Anglo-Saxons have very pale, fine skin - do you not think that that in itself may account to some extent for the high rate of allergies in the UK?

bobsmum Mon 24-Sep-07 09:18:27

Does The UK not have one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world too?

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 09:34:54

For a developed country I don't think the UK is as bad as all that on breastfeeding - anyone have stats?

Callisto Mon 24-Sep-07 10:39:42

Stress will be a factor too. Our school children are the most stressed in the world arn't they?

PrettyCandles Mon 24-Sep-07 10:43:53

But Anna, the incidence of allergies and asthmas is increasing, while the ethnic variety in the populations is also increasing, so that can't really account for it.

From what I've read, and also heard from parents of children with severe allergies as well as from some medical people with experience, one of the best things we can do to protect our children from allergies is to expose them to allergens from an early age: dirt, pollen, animals etc. And breastfeed, of course.

Desiderata Mon 24-Sep-07 10:52:52

I'd definitely go along with the cleanliness theory as a contributory factor. It's easy to overwhelmed with claims and counter-claims on the subject of the nation's health, but one thing I do know ...

.. when I was at school in the 1970s, allergies were very rare. Something has changed in the last thirty years, and whatever it is, I hope they get to the bottom of it.

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 11:23:10

Callisto - I thought that Korean, Japanese and French children were the most pressured at school.

Elasticbandstand Mon 24-Sep-07 11:25:39

when i was in usa in 1989 ona children's camp, i was amazed at the amount of children with allergies. I think we have caught up. perhaps we test more than we did?
although i wasnt a mother in 1989,
i have no allergies in my family.

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 11:29:45

PrettyCandles - no, it doesn't (alone) account for the increase but it can account for why the British have a higher incidence of allergies than other countries. And, as has recently been pointed out on another thread, the population of the British Isles is >90% white.

Pimmpom Mon 24-Sep-07 11:33:15

Makes you wonder why we have so few trained allergists in this country shock

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 11:44:20

Presumably that is related to the chronic shortage of dermatologists in the UK too.

Othersideofthechannel Mon 24-Sep-07 11:47:30

No stats to hand Anna but I have read many times that fewer women breastfeed in France than in UK. Allergeries are rarer in France.

EmsMum Mon 24-Sep-07 11:49:56

I'd be curious to see the Lancet article cited ... do nearly half our kids REALLY have some sort of allergy? Does that match reality as you see it?... cos I can't say I've observed that many allergies in my DDs peer group.

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 12:21:11

Othersideofthechannel - yes, France is the mauvaise élève of the developed world when it comes to breastfeeding and, as you say, allergies don't seem to be a big deal here - so the supposed correlation between high breastfeeding rates and low allergies isn't supported by experiences here.

Upwind Mon 24-Sep-07 12:40:12

I have lived in France and the quality of the food is much better - less processed crap and much easier to get your hands on good quality, locally grown fresh vegetables.

I suspect there is less of an obsession with cleanliness too. And the climate makes it easier for dcs to play outdoors more of the time, where they will presumably eat dirt grin

Othersideofthechannel Mon 24-Sep-07 13:12:41

I don't know if it is still true but 10 years ago the population of France got through way less soap/shower gel per head than the population of the UK!

Anna8888 Mon 24-Sep-07 13:28:20

They still do get through far less soap/shampoo/toothbrushes/deodorant. And far more perfume. grin

Desiderata Mon 24-Sep-07 13:42:37

Right! My mind's made up. Ds is definitely not getting his end of month bath next week.

No siree .. grin

Othersideofthechannel Mon 24-Sep-07 20:19:46

tee hee

Othersideofthechannel Mon 24-Sep-07 20:24:56

But seriously, they don't tell you to avoid peanuts when you are pregnant in many other countries so maybe there is something in this.

Other than peants, what are children commonly allergic to?

tori32 Mon 24-Sep-07 21:01:28

I would say that allergies have increased in this country because we are taught by people in the so called 'know' to keepeverything sterile for babies even down to dummies. If you don't get exposed to allergens you will not develop resistance to them and will develop allergies. Also, many things like asthma can be triggered by the house dust mite which live in bedding and carpets. Many overseas houses have marble or stone floors which are easily swept and mopped so are cleaner in that respect.The overuse of antibacterial cleaners means that children do not come into contact with as much dirt so when they do, their bodies can't cope and stomach upsets occur.

blueshoes Mon 24-Sep-07 21:55:34

yes, dirt is our friend. Studies show children who grow up with pets and other siblings (who are presumably dirty) have fewer allergies and stronger immune systems.

I can do dirt.

chankins Mon 24-Sep-07 22:07:34

I think I read a bit in the paper the other day that said a new report found no evidence that breastfeeding reduces the chances of getting eczema - then there's the whole peanut thing - Eczema runs in our family and one of my dc suffers terribly, the other has asthma, so I've followed all the advice, bf,no peanuts etc, then they go and change it all again! Now its later weaning to avoid eczema etc too. They'll probably change their minds about that in a few years! By they I mean so called experts.

Katsma Tue 25-Sep-07 01:40:22

Interesting thread. Do you think that we ARE cleaner than our parents generation? I'm not convinced.

I can remember my parents and grandparents scrubbing food prep areas with a scrubbing brush, boiling water and Dettol, ditto the front step. Cleaning cloths, teatowels, bedding and baby clothes were boil washed every day. Babies were generally breastfed, so there were no bottles to sterilise. We only had about 2 toys each and were washed in carbolic soap <38yo feeling like a deprived child emoticon!>

Skip to today, where food prep areas are given a squirt of anti-bac spray and a cursory wipe with a rancid dishcloth because you trust the spray to do its job. Cloths, teatowels, bedding and baby clothes all washed at 40degrees which doesn't kill any bacteria or dust mites. Kids with so many toys you couldn't possibly keep them surface clean, let alone sterile. Mums, either through necessity or choice, going back to work post-children and trying to 'do it all' (No judgements here!)

Do we really live in cleaner environments nowadays? I'm just not sure either way.

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