APR 13, 2018 6:36 AM PDT

Can A Baby Wipe Trigger a Food Allergy?

Infant and childhood food allergies have been a problem for decades. Families who have children with food allergies have to worry about school lunches, classroom policies, field trips and so much else, all because of a peanut or a piece of cake.

Allergies are on the rise and are fast becoming a public health issue, but the uptick in cases of food allergies is something many researchers are looking into. There are genetic issues as well as environmental and the most recent research suggests that it could be a mix of both along with other factors that trigger allergies in children. Researchers at Northwestern Medicine have published a study that shows early use of commercial baby wipes could be a factor in allergies. 

It's almost never just one trigger that causes an allergy. There are skin issues, family history, environmental concerns about dust and other allergens as well exposure of infants to different environments because of daycare, early preschool experience, and other factors. When a few of these items occur together, it's a "recipe" for allergy acquisition. Joan Cook-Mills, a professor of allergy-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is the lead author of a new study on food allergies and the use of baby wipes and she explained,  "This is a recipe for developing a food allergy. It's a major advance in our understanding of how food allergy starts early in life." The study Dr. Cook-Mills was part of is published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 

Food allergies are no joke. According to the CDC, 4 to 6 percent of school-aged children in the United States will be impacted by a food allergy. Between the years 1997 to 2007, there was an 18% increase in food allergy incidence in children. It's not just a little sneezing or wheezing though. Hospitalizations of children for food allergy reactions have increased as well. It's serious business. 

So what can be done about exposure to allergens when it comes to baby wipes? A lot of it can be modified in the home. Cook-Mills advises caretakers to wash their hands before changing a diaper or feeding a baby. Many wipes that are available for sale can leave a soapy residue on the skin. Taking a paper towel, moistened with just water can mitigate that factor, removing the residue of soap or other chemicals. 

The connection between wipes and allergies was made when looking at neonatal mice that had been genetically engineered. It's common that allergic children often have skin rashes, known as atopic dermatitis, and these rashes break down skin barriers.  Genetic mutations have been identified as a cause and mice who had them were used in the study. Baby wipes contain soap, which has lipids (fats) that break down the skin barrier, so allergens like food or dust can enter the body and cause an allergy to develop. All because the skin barrier is disrupted. In the mice in the study, rashes and broken skin showed up once the mice were a few months old, which is equivalent to adolescence or young adulthood in humans. 

The information discovered in this study showed that when the skin barrier is disturbed, via a genetic mutation or a substance on the skin, allergies are the result. The team hopes to use the study to learn more about the molecular mechanism behind the skin's protective barrier and how that impacts the rise in allergies being seen in young children. Check out the video to learn more about this study.

Sources: Northwestern University, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Good Housekeeping

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
MAY 04, 2020
Cancer
MAY 04, 2020
A Retroactive Study Finds an Immunotherapy Effective as a Third-Line Therapy
Cancer is a particularly persistent disease. Many therapies are composed of one or more different treatments. These trea ...
MAY 04, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 04, 2020
How Soap and Hand Sanitizer Kill Viruses
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread around the world and there is still no available treatment or a vaccine. Prevention rem ...
MAY 06, 2020
Neuroscience
MAY 06, 2020
The Brain Replays Waking Experiences While You Sleep
Researchers have found that while we sleep, our brains are busy processing our waking experiences. A process called &lsq ...
MAY 15, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 15, 2020
Cardiovascular Disease Mortality is Greater in Rural Areas
A wide variation in cardiovascular disease mortality rates has been noted among counties in the United States. Residents ...
MAY 20, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 20, 2020
Metabolite Responsible for Poor Metabolic Response to Exercise Identified
For some, working out just doesn’t pay off. A recent study published in Cardiovascular Research by the H ...
MAY 28, 2020
Cancer
MAY 28, 2020
The Oncogenic Hazard of a Potential Alzheimer's Treatment
Breast cancer remains one of the most common cancers around the world. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is a sub-typ ...
Loading Comments...