EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) – A new study has revealed that baby wipes can be part of a "perfect storm" that can trigger childhood food allergies.
Researchers at Northwestern University say that a combination of genetics, allergens in the powder, food choices and the effects of cleansing baby wipes on the skin are part of a package that triggers allergies.
"It is a breakthrough in our understanding of how food allergy begins early in life," lead author Joan Cook-Mills said in a press release.
Researchers found that up to 35 percent of children with food allergies experience skin inflammation (atopic dermatitis) that can be caused by genetic mutations that reduce the skin barrier against allergens.
Cook-Mills says that the top layer of the skin is made of lipids (or fats) and the wipes interrupt that barrier.
The professor of allergy and immunology explains that baby wipes leave soap on the skin that alters the absorbency of the child's skin. "They may not eat food allergens like newborns, but they are putting them on their skin."
The report, which will be published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, urges parents or anyone who works with children to wash their hands before handling a baby.
The Northwestern team also advises adults to use baby wipes and rinse off the excess soap that those wipes leave with water.
According to the CDC, four to six percent of children in the US UU They suffer from food allergies. From 1997 to 2007, cases of food allergy increased by 18 percent among children in the country.