Winner of the Silver World Medal, 2015 New York Festivals – Best Health/Medical Information documentary
Premiered Feb, 2014 On CBC Television’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki
Watch it online at at cbc.ca (Canada only)
If you’ve been to a children’s birthday party lately, chances are at least one of the little guests had an Epi-Pen. It’s standard equipment for a growing generation of highly allergic North Americans: more than three times as many children have food allergies now, than twenty years ago. Something very strange is going on with our immune systems.
The Allergy Fix investigates why allergies are on the rise – and what’s being done about it. Clues to the increase may be found on farms, because kids growing up on dairy farms have far fewer allergies than city kids. It seems that without the kinds of bacteria that have traditionally lived around us and within us for hundreds of thousands of years, our immune systems have become confused.
Since discovering the germ theory of disease, we have cleaned up our world. We have sanitized our urban environment, and mostly defeated bacteria with antibiotics. But at what cost? The antibiotics may be killing off microbes in our gut that work symbiotically with our immune system.
So what to do? Allergists are attempting to ‘desensitize’ kids to allergenic foods like peanuts and milk, by starting with tiny doses of the offending food, and gradually increasing them until the immune system is trained to accept it. That can be scary stuff for parents and children who know their allergies are life-threatening.
For many years, allergists recommended that parents put off feeding their children allergenic foods like peanuts until their immune systems ‘matured’. But now evidence is showing that perhaps we should be doing the opposite: feeding our children peanuts as soon as they are weaned – because in societies where this is common, allergies are not.
The Allergy Fix looks at the latest attempts to fix the allergy epidemic, and highlights some surprising medical advances that are sparking hope.
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Directed by Bruce Mohun, written by Bruce Mohun and Helen Slinger, and produced by Sue Ridout. Director of Photography John Collins; edited by Tim Wanlin, with an original music score composed by Graeme Coleman.