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Parents overestimate baby allergies

A new study suggests that the number of parents who believe their baby has some sort of food allergy is out of proportion to the actual number found to be allergic.

And scientists at the University of Portsmouth have found that, despite popular opinion, the rate of food hypersensitivity is not actually rising.

As part of a three-year programme funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Dr Carina Venter studied nearly all the babies born in one year on the Isle of Wight.

Her research shows that parents were too quick to assume their child had an allergy or intolerance to a specific food, and that food hypersensitivity has not increased since a previous study on the subject 20 years ago.

Of the 807 babies in the study, more than a third of their parents (272) said their child was allergic or intolerant to one or more foods.

However, less than 60 babies proved to be allergic to any food by the age of three.

Dr Venter said: "People have become more aware of food allergies, particularly of peanut allergy.

"Mums tend to put down every rash, tummy ache, diarrhoea and crying to food allergy or intolerance.

"I sympathise with them, it seems reasonable to blame the food when an infant screams or turns red in the face minutes after being fed it for the first time."

Food Standards Agency

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