Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
4259 W Swamp Rd, Suite 408, Doylestown, PA 18902
Phone: | Fax:
Gutworms and similar parasites are present in untreated drinking water in developing countries, and were present in the water of developed countries until the routine chlorination and purification of drinking water supplies.  Recent research has shown that some common parasites , such as intestinal worms (., hookworms ), secrete chemicals into the gut wall (and, hence, the bloodstream) that suppress the immune system and prevent the body from attacking the parasite.  This gives rise to a new slant on the hygiene hypothesis theory—that co-evolution of humans and parasites has led to an immune system that functions correctly only in the presence of the parasites. Without them, the immune system becomes unbalanced and oversensitive.  In particular, research suggests that allergies may coincide with the delayed establishment of gut flora in infants .  However, the research to support this theory is conflicting, with some studies performed in China and Ethiopia showing an increase in allergy in people infected with intestinal worms.  Clinical trials have been initiated to test the effectiveness of certain worms in treating some allergies.  It may be that the term 'parasite' could turn out to be inappropriate, and in fact a hitherto unsuspected symbiosis is at work.  For more information on this topic, see Helminthic therapy .
Formaldehyde--one of the most widely produced chemicals in the world--is used in many products, including disinfectants, pressed-wood, and clothing and other textiles. Exposure to this chemical, which has been linked to adverse health effects for more than 30 years, typically occurs through inhalation and dermal (skin) contact. Formaldehyde can be used to enhance wrinkle resistance in some clothing and textiles, especially those made of cotton. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reviewed formaldehyde in clothing in the 1980s and determined that the levels found did not pose a public health concern. At that time, most clothing sold in the United States was made here--but the market has changed such that most . clothing is now made in other countries. This market change has raised anew questions about the levels of formaldehyde in clothing. In response to a mandate in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, this report provides information on what is known about (1) the health risks of exposure to formaldehyde, particularly from clothing, and (2) the levels of formaldehyde in clothing sold in the United States. GAO analyzed government reviews and the medical literature, as well as studies on levels of formaldehyde in clothing, and had a sample of 180 textiles--primarily clothing--tested for formaldehyde by an accredited laboratory. While illustrative of formaldehyde levels that may be found in clothing, the test results from GAO's sample cannot be projected to all clothing sold in the United States.