In two-year-old Ethan Wily's church nursery program, photos hang of the children and next to each is listed his or her personal food allergies, according to a CNN article. The article's author uses the anecdote to illustrate the fact that allergies to common foods like nuts and shellfish seem to be growing more common among kids across the United States.
The number of kids with food allergies spiked 18 percent between 1997 and 2007, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, CNN reported. About 3 million children under 18 had food or digestive allergies in 2007, according to the CDC.
Is it the Western diet? Is it that kids aren't being exposed to common allergens at an early enough age?
Doctors aren't sure.
Some speculate that the Western diet -- sanitized as it is -- is creating an opportunity for allergies to develop.