January 13 2014

Let's talk about allergies…

Julie Gunlock

My sister is allergic to a billion things. As a child, she was often sniffling and her nose and eyes seemed perpetually red.  I, on the other hand, have no allergies. I have no idea why this happened (I quite enjoy telling my sister that it shows Mom loved me more) but there you have it, I'm free and clear of allergies while my sister suffered as a child. But today, certain parents use their child's allergies to call for widespread bans on certain products. 

Take a story making waves in today's Daily Mail (complete with a gag-inducing picture). The headline is classic alarmism: 

"Chemical in baby wipes 'causes scaly, itchy rashes on children's faces' study reveals"

Yet, the first paragraph of the story tells a different story (emphasis mine):

Baby wipes are reportedly leaving children with an itchy, scaly and red rash which is often misdiagnosed as a more serious skin condition, a study revealed today. 

An allergic reaction to moist wipes is believed to be behind the rash which is being mistaken for conditions such as eczema, impetigo and psoriasis. 

Dr Mary Wu Chang, a professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said that she has seen six children with the mysterious rash over the past two years.

Six children in two years? That does not a crisis make. Want to know how the study's author, Dr. Mary Wu Chang, dealt with this issue:

After an allergy test and laying off the wipes, the little girl's rash disappeared.

Well, that seems reasonable. After doctor discovers patient's allergy to product A, patient is advised to lay off product A. Problem solved.  

Yet, the fact that a few kids have an allergy or a sensitivity to certain baby wipes is an opportunity for alarmism too good to pass up. It's a safe bet that soon the anti-chemical activists will add baby wipes to the already very long list of things mothers should worry about.  But reasonable moms must remember: people have allergies. Those allergies don't indicate a widespread health crisis.

 

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