Scientists have identified a link between the use of baby wipes and food allergies in kids
Baby wipes are a life-saver, can we all just agree?
I mean; not only are they super handy for actually cleaning babies, they are also pretty darn nifty when it comes to cleaning car seats, picnic blankets, kitchen tables; you name it, I have used a baby wipe to clean it these last few years.
In fact, I will go as far as saying baby wipes are the Swiss army knife of parenting – it tackles an absolute multitude of situations no bother.
However, it seems we should all be putting down that packet of wipes now and stepping away slowly, hands in the air.
According to a recent US study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, genetics and skin exposure to baby wipes, dust and food are all factors behind increasing levels of children with food allergies. And lead study author Joan Cook-Mills, a professor of allergy-immunology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, described the findings as a "major advance in our understanding of how food allergy starts early in life".
There is no denying that food allergies are becoming more common, with as many as one in 12 children in the UK now being diagnosed with some form of it.
The good news? According to the study, parents and care-givers can reduce the risk of food allergies in children by making simple changes in the home.
"Reduce baby's skin exposure to the food allergens by washing your hands before handling the baby," explains Cook-Mills. "Limit use of infant wipes that leave soap on the skin. Rinse soap off with water like we used to do years ago."
The researchers explain that clinical evidence shows that up to 35 percent of children with food allergies have atopic dermatitis, much of which is explained by at least three different gene mutations that reduce the skin barrier.
From they are born, babies are exposed to environmental allergens in dust in a home. They may not be eating food allergens as a newborn, but they are getting them on their skin.
"Say a sibling with peanut butter on her face kisses the baby," explains Cook-Mills. "Or a parent is preparing food with peanuts and then handles the baby."
As for baby wipes, the professor claims the soap in the wipes disrupts the top layer of our skin (and your baby's skin), but that skin problems may not be visibly until long after a food allergy has already started.
Several studies on mice were conducted that all drew the same conclusion –being exposed to allergens through their skin if it is weakened in any way could pave the way for some pretty serious food allergies later.