In the context of the so-called «Hygiene Theory» dominant in developed countries, in the last 10 to 15 years, there has been an increase in the incidence of food allergies. According to Sylvia Cruchet, a child gastroenterologist at INTA and a member of the Chilean Society of Gastroenterology (SChGE), the general recommendation is to encourage breastfeeding in the first year of life and the consumption of natural and varied foods.
«It is currently estimated that 4.9% of children under one year of age have a food allergy, the most common being cow’s milk, soybeans and rice. Eggs, meat and seafood are further away in frequency. Unlike in adults, food allergies are rarely reported and usually correspond to acute and anaphylactic reactions that lead them to consult in the emergency department and which the patient is able to recognize,» Cruchet says.
In children, especially infants, there are various presentations, such as skin rash, diarrhea, reflux, colic, bloody bowel movements. Treatment in children is to maintain breastfeeding with some dietary restrictions on the mother or special highly hydrolyzed formulas.
The specialist explains that food allergies in Chile behave like a developed country, very similar to the European population, where you live in a very clean environment, with high consumption of packaged and sterilized food, which influences the increase of all kinds of allergies.
«A wide and diverse diet, rich in all kinds of nutrients and high in fiber, present in fruits and vegetables, contribute to generate a protective factor against the development of food allergies. In addition, promoting outdoor physical activities and frequent and moderate exposure to the sun would also increase overall low vitamin D levels in patients with allergy conditions,» she concluded.