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Pesticides in drinking water can cause food allergies

Category: General Wellness

A recent study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has found that pesticides in drinking water, which contain a chemical known as dichlorophenol, may be the culprit of some food allergies.

"Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy," said study author, allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc. "This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water."

The study looked at 10,348 subjects who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2006, 2,548 of whom had dichlorophenols detected in their urine. The researchers found that 411 of these participants, which included an additional 2,211 study participants with dichlorophenols in their urine, had food allergies, while 1,016 of the subjects had environmental allergies.

Jerschow noted that both food allergies and pollution is on the rise, and opting for bottled water might not be completely effective in warding off allergies due to the fruits and vegetables that are treated with pesticides.

Food allergy facts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that nearly 4 to 6 percent of children and teenagers who are under 18 years old have food allergies. Nearly 90 percent of all food allergies pertain to cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soybeans and wheat. Some symptoms of food allergies include hives, tingling in the mouth, swelling in the tongue and throat, abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea, dizziness, losing consciousness, eczema, coughing or wheezing.

The source also reports that some mild food allergies can be treated with antihistamines or bronchodilators, but at the moment there is no cure.

There are several tests that can help diagnose food allergies. According to the Mayo Clinic, a patient may undergo a blood test, which looks at the levels of certain antibodies in the patient's bloodstream when he or she is introduced to certain foods. A doctor may also conduct a skin prick test, which involves a tiny portion of a food substance that is placed underneath the skin using a pin. If a raised bump or other adverse reaction occurs, it may indicate an allergy. An elimination diet is another method of diagnosing food allergies, which revolves around patients excluding certain foods from their meals and reintroducing them back into their diets one by one to see if symptoms occur.

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