Why Do Children Have More Food Allergies Than Ever Before?

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Why do children have more food allergies than ever before? Do you ever find yourself wondering why you didn’t know a single person with a food allergy when you were growing up? I have definitely pondered these questions, and I finally got some answers when I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon sponsored by Stonyfield Organic featuring Robyn O’Brien. Robyn is the author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It” and the founder of Allergy Kids Foundation.

To understand the answers to the above questions, I think it is really important to understand how Robyn came upon finding the answers. Robyn grew up in Houston, Texas, and she was the furthest thing from a foodie. She lived on meat and potatoes with Doritos and Ding Dongs. Robyn later became a Wall Street analyst, but traded in her briefcase to be a stay at home mom. They had a limited budget and she didn’t know how to cook, so her kids thrived on things like blue yogurt, store bought vats of mac and cheese, and microwaved chicken nuggets.

Robyn’s blissful ignorance about food choices ended the day that one of her children had a violent allergic reaction to eggs. Being that analytical person that she is, Robyn started digging for information. Why did her child and so many others in this generation have food allergies?

The answers she found were frightening.

Here are some of the facts Robyn found:
- In 1994, the FDA and the USDA approved new proteins to be added into our milk supply. All other developed countries said no to adding this protein.

- Soon after, a new protein was introduced into soybeans.

- Corn began to be genetically engineered so that it could produce its own insecticide internally. Corn was then regulated by the EPA as an insecticide.

- There was ONE human trial to test these genetically engineered foods. It showed a 50% raise in allergies.

- Elevated hormone levels in food are linked to various cancers.

- Cancer is the leading disease cause of death in children under 15 in the U.S.

You can imagine how horrified Robyn was when she discovered all of this information. She spent several weeks crafting a research based email to Erin Brockovich, and from there, Robyn’s life took a new turn:

“But I couldn’t unlearn what I had learned, and I couldn’t turn my back on what had to be done to restore
the health of our children. So I am an unlikely crusader for cleaning up our food supply. You may be,
too. But fortunately, there is a lot that we can do about it. We simply have to get savvy and stand
together so that our voices can be heard by leaders in our government and the food industry the same
way that families overseas have made their voices heard over there.”

If a Cheetos eating, non-cooking mama like Robyn could change her life and dedicate it to saving our children, then don’t you think we can make a few small choices to better the lives of our families?

Here are some other tidbits that Robyn shared that motivate and inspire me to make healthy food choices:

- In the U.S., we spend more on disease management than any other country on the planet. This affects everything from our health to our global competitiveness.

- Brands change in response to consumer demand. In other developed countries, major brands like Coca-Cola and Kraft distribute products that do not contain GMOs or genetically modified organisms.

- 88% of ADHD medications are consumed in the U.S., but we only represent 5% of the world’s population.

- Kids are 30% of our population but 100% of our future!

- 90% of cancers are environmentally triggered.

- As the CEO of Stonyfield says, every time you go to the grocery store, you are voting.

*Thank you to Stonyfield Organic and Robyn O’Brien for a wonderfully informative luncheon!

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle October 4, 2011 at 11:19 am

Accckkk! I am in the midst of the book right now. I can’t read it before bed, keeps me thinking about the harm that can be done by EATING.
Thanks for the insight.

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2 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama October 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm

WOW. I need to read that book – that is unreal! Thank you for sharing!

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3 Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction October 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Thank you for posting this! I need to read that book. I love learning about this subject.

We have cut out milk for various reasons, and we try to buy whole foods as much as possible. I wonder if that’s even enough.
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4 teresa October 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Heavy sigh! Thank you for sharing this. I know I vote at the grocery store, but I think I’d like to see about doing more. This is too scary.
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5 Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama October 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

great info…especially for a family like ours…food allergy central over here!!!
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6 Lisa @Granola Catholic October 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Thank book is on my amazon list. I listen to Robyn’s TED talk. I have often wondered why so many more kids have allergies now than when I was in school. Thankfully my kids don’t eat much in terms of processed food.

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7 Gaby @ Tmuffin October 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark. You know, your articles are great. They pack a lot of information into a really easy to read format. They are powerful! Thanks for this information. People need to realize what’s going on with big food companies in the U.S.
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8 Momma Jorje October 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Ugh, I want out of this country!!
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9 Brittany@Mama's Felt Cafe October 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Nice article. These same reasons are also why my son has his natural immune system intact. Many parents do not realize vaccines contain peanut oil, chicken albumin, fetal cow blood. It is not a coincidence that there have been increasing incidences of peanut, egg and dairy allergies. Doctors are injecting newborns with GMO’s every day and none of this has been tested long term for safety or efficacy. We always have to remember we are our child’s only advocate for everything that goes into their little bodies. I’ll step down from my soapbox now :-)

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10 Danielle October 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I appreciate the post. It was very informative, especially being a person who suffers from food allergies. I look forward to getting the book.

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11 melissa October 4, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Just as I was about to respond with what I thought was the news on Stoneyfield Farm and GMO I decided I should double check my info and this is what I found: http://www.stonyfield.com/blog/2011/01/29/the-organic-community-must-come-out-swinging-at-the-right-opponents/
I am glad to see it wasn’t as they were portraying it!
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12 Elle October 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

Wow! Very interesting and scary too. Post Stumbled. Check out mine From the Runway to Everyday (http://cleverlychanging.com/?p=1437).
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13 Heather @ Side of Sneakers October 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

Thanks for writing about this- I think the increase in food allergies is a super interesting topic, and really quite frightening when you really look at it. Sounds like an awesome luncheon!
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14 Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry October 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Thank you for posting this. I needed a renewal of inspiration to stick to whole and organic foods as much as possible.

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15 Grady Pruitt October 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I have seen so many changes in many different things over the last 20 years that are very concerning. I’ve seen surgeries touted as necessary or great when we have no idea yet of the long term effects, medications for “diseases” that almost sound made up, medications being recalled for sometimes fatal side effects, and I keep hearing about the modification and deterioration of our food supply. Seems we are rapidly pushing ourselves to the brink of a disaster.

thanks for this eye opening post!
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16 Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman October 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Yup, yup and more yup. This could have been my story except instead of allergies it was inexplicable weight gain and ADHD symptoms in my child. I would add a couple of things to her list. Wheat and dairy. Meat and veggies with the occasional fruit is where it’s at. And even then we have to be careful.
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17 Rosie @ Hollywood Cosmetic Dentist October 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Some of these statistics are pretty shocking, I have to admit. I will do what I can to keep my family healthier, even if that means making a few changes I’ve been putting off! Thanks for the tips. :)

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18 Shay October 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm

OMG! This is was REALLY eye opening. Those last few stats had my jaw on the floort. But, as you say at the end “everytime you go to the grocery store you’re voting.” This is a HUGE topic that needs to be shouted from the rooftops!

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19 Nicole Rivera October 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

This is the second time this book is coming up on my radar. I think I have to get around to reading it sooner rather than later!!! Thanks for the great post!!
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20 Kristl Story October 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Our entire food supply is a mess! When will the media jump on this bandwagon??? Thanks for sharing!
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21 DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman October 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Yep. In an effort to use the chemicals that were developed for warfare for domestic use once they were no longer needed in war, we have put our own country’s food supply at risk. We’ve created mutations so that our food supply can survive the chemicals. But at what cost? Frankenfood has become the norm.

I can’t even tell my readers to go back to only eating foods that were around before 1960 because even our non-processed foods have been frankenized. It is a pretty scare food world out there!
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22 simply heidi October 24, 2011 at 3:14 am

I read Robyn’s book a few months ago. I won’t say it was the best written (if I hear the phrase ‘mama guilt’ one more time…) but it was very informative. Every parent should learn what Robyn learned. Thanks for highlighting this important issue.
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23 Cheryl D. November 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Very interesting! I stumbled upon this post. I’ve held this theory personally that GMOs have done evil things to our food supply. I suspected this with the increase in allergies also. I think it’s affected the increase in other A’s as well: autism, ADHD, autoimmune disorders.

I didn’t see anyone else with this theory but it seems so obvious to me. Something changed in the mid-90s that cause the increase in above. What could have cause it? The fact that our food supply changed so dramatically around that time with GMOs is an excellent suspect to explore, IMHO.
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24 Melissa December 21, 2011 at 12:46 am

Thanks so much for an informative post, Charise! I saw it before, but really benefited from reading it again. Stumbled!
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25 Erica @ ChildOrganics December 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Great info! I have wondered those same questions,! It’s shocking,, really. Thanks for sharing!
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26 Carrie December 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

thank you for spreading the word! I have read Robyn’s book b/c I have a son with food allergies,& like Robyn I wanted answers. The more people that know the truth, the more hope we have for change!

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27 Amy G January 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I read it when you first posted it, but I’ve thought about it pretty much every day since- the idea about buying as an act of voting has really changed the way my husband and I buy everything now. I feel so empowered and educated! It actually inspired my January submission to the NatParCar. I haven’t read the book yet, but I did buy it and it’s next on my list! Thank you again!
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28 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Wow, Amy! I am so honored that this post inspired you that much! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book! <3

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29 Christopher September 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm

This is absolute nonsense. Lack of exposure to diverse environments (i.e. farms and the outdoors) is what has caused the explosion of allergies in kids. Modern ultra-hygienic parenting is to blame, not modern agriculture. There is over two decades of data to support this. There is little or no peer reviewed science to suggest that genetically modified foods influence food allergies!

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30 Hannah January 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

Wonderful information! Please consider sharing this with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday Link-Up! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/01/eco-kids-tuesday-link-up.html
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31 Shannon @ GrowingSlower January 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Wow! Sounds like I need to check out that book. We really try to avoid processed foods, but when there are pesticides in the actual corn?! It’s unbelievable that this is all government sanctioned.
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32 Hannah January 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Thank you for sharing with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I featured our post today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/01/paper-beads-on-eco-kids-tuesday.html
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33 Maryann D. July 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm

These are all very interesting facts to consider. I do find that 90% of cancers are environmentally triggered is very upsetting. We have to find more ways to prevent this.

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34 Kristine July 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I always thought this too and this is further confirmation. It is very difficult to separate what is safe to eat these days and I can only hope that it is all very accessible. At the same time, I wish eating organic food didn’t cost so much.
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35 Charlie Miliner December 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm

It seems like more and more each year there are new allergies popping up! It’s pretty crazy! I never remember as a kid people being allergic to peanuts or many other things. Great article!

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