Food allergies linked to baby wipes

- Food allergies in some children could be linked to baby wipe use according to a new study.

Researchers at Northwestern University linked infant and childhood food allergies to a mix of environmental and genetic factors that they say must coexist to trigger the allergy.

The researchers say that cleaning wipes leave soap on the skin.  That, along with skin exposure to allergens in dust and skin exposure to food from those providing infant care, can trigger the allergy.

So, for instance, if a parent handled peanuts and then cleaned up their baby's bottom using baby wipes, they could potentially trigger a food allergy in the baby.

The authors of the study recommend that parents wash their hands before cleaning their child and using baby wipes to avoid any potential allergens from transferring to the baby's skin.

The doctors say an ingredient in the baby wipes breaks down barriers in the fatty barrier in the skin of some babies and introduce the allergy.  That, in conjunction with a genetic mutation in some babies, led to the food allergy.  The ingredient in question is called sodium lauryl sulfate.

Clinical evidence shows up to 35 percent of children with food allergies have atopic dermatitis and much of that is explained by at least three different gene mutations that reduce the skin barrier.

Food allergies are on the rise and affect an estimated 4 to 6 percent of children in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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