Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There is a trend I’m noticing that has begun to irritate me.

Blaming children’s health issues (and my bugaboo is allergies/asthma) on certain inane choices of the parents—particularly the mother.

I’ve read soooo many articles in the past 3 or 4 years on how X causes childhood asthma and Y prevents it, that it’s completely ridiculous. I’ m not sure if it’s the researchers or if it’s the medias reporting but it’s working a nerve.I know it’s because there is a seeming increase in prevalence. But I think they may be finding causality where there is merely the appearance of a correlation. And therefor making mothers more nervous and guilt-ridden than before and than is necessary. And it's not just allergies/asthma. That's just the particular ailment that I pay special attention to.

For example:

  • Breastfeeding is supposed to prevent it.
  • Excess folic acid in pregnancy causes it.
  • Infant Tylenol causes it.
  • The mother being stressed during pregnancy causes it.
  • Dirt/infection is supposed to prevent it.
  • Having pets prevents it.
  • Removing any exposure to a food till after two years old causes it.

Meanwhile, I come from a family of breastfed babies who go on to breastfeed their own children. Every last one of us is under a doctor’s care for allergies and allergy-related illness. We are also a folate-deficient people so have been directed to take large doses to promote healthy children and healthy adults. I, personally, live in a dog-full home that is resultingly filthy. I ate an extremely varied, but low fat/sodium diet while pregnant and didn’t really follow those ‘do not feed’ lists. And Tylenol? Isn’t that what we’ve been told for YEARS to give our children?
So my kid has allergies. He has his Singulair and his nebulizer with albuterol which is most needed in spring for the tree pollen.

I reject the media’s assertion that it’s somehow my fault he has problems in the spring with tree pollen or can’t eat tropical fruit. My belief? It was a forgone conclusion. In a family where epi-pens are prevalent, and carrying benedryl is like keeping a Kleenex on you, that doesn’t seem a stretch.

Sometimes things just are.

I hope soon that the rest of the world can accept that, and stop blaming parents for the health issues of their children. Parents have enough to deal with when their child has a problem. No need to pile on.


caramama said...

You just made me feel a lot better. Thanks for this post!

Cloud said...

I hear you. I'm another allergic/asthmatic mother, and I'm trained as a biochemist. I've read a lot of papers on allergies and asthma, because I have a personal interest and because I think they are fascinating from a scientific standpoint. I am almost certainly going to raise two allergic and possibly asthmatic kids, because it is a strongly heritable trait.

In my opinion, the only way in which you can reasonably be said to have "caused" your child's allergies is by passing on your genes.

Most of the studies you referenced are correlative studies. Especially on the weirder ones (like Tylenol), I want to see a mechanism before I'll buy it.