Children during their younger years are recommended by their nutritionists to follow a balanced diet and include foods that can nourish them with proteins, minerals, vitamins, fats, and carbs in order to ensure overall growth and development in them. But many children in their younger years are known to have various kinds of allergies.
Allergies to different kinds of food items are especially common. In most cases, children are usually kept off of those foods, which results in an imbalanced diet. But how does this improper diet affects children, come let’s have a look.
In research conducted by the University of North Carolina during the years 2007-2011, they studied the medical data of children between infancy to 11 years of age. 245 of the 5000 said children observed were allergic. The results concluded in the study are a concern for those parents who eliminate the food items that trigger an allergy in their child’s diet. The results showed that the children who were allergic to certain food items and were kept off of them, as a result, had lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than their non-allergic counterparts.
Another conclusion that was drawn out in the study was that the number of food items that the child was allergic to, also impacted his growth. For example, if we compare a child who is allergic to 1 or 2 food items with another child who is allergic to more than 2 things, then the child with more than 2 allergies will have lower percentiles for height and weight.
These conclusions lead the researchers to conclude that because of the allergies when certain foods were eliminated from the child’s diet, then the resulting imbalance diet was not sufficient to ensure the overall growth and development in children. This created a dilemma for parents who were now required to ensure that even after the allergy the child gets all the nutrients necessary for development.
Dr Joel Klein, an allergy specialist at Advocate Condell Medical Centre expresses his concern over how in present times the children have become more prone to allergies which are unlike old times. He speculates one reason for it to be a theory named hygiene hypothesis which suggests that when parents try to over-treat certain infections in children when they are aged less than 2 years, they prevent the body from developing certain mechanisms that would make the body strong enough to not reject certain foods.
Moreover, many babies are also allergic to milk. This is a reason for even greater concern as the children who avoid milk tend to show even lower percentiles of weight and BMI than those who are avoiding other foods. The reason behind this is suspected to be the fact that since in children milk and soy products are the primary sources of nutrition, so avoidance of milk is more pronounced than other food items.
Apart from these, the treatment of allergies too can show a negative impact on a child’s development. For example, Corticosteroids which are used to treat the inflammation associated with certain allergies, when used too much, can stunt growth in developing children.
Hence, food allergies should be handled cautiously by parents. And they should make sure that the child intakes a balanced diet so that his/her growth is not stunted.