Allergy Myths Revealed

The problem with that thinking, said Leavengood, is that the pollens creating allergy problems aren't the ones bees use for honey.

"It's the tree, grass and weeds that are the allergy pollens. They broadcast [their pollen]," he said.

The pollens bees use in honey are the heavy, sticky pollens from flowers that rely on bees to spread it so the plants can reproduce.

"The pollen the honey is made out of is not the pollen that causes the allergies. It's not tree pollen and it's not grass pollen," said Leavengood. "As far as allergy goes, it's just the wrong type of pollen."

Fact or Myth? Eating allergenic foods during pregnancy/breast-feeding can give allergies to my child.

Answer: Possibly a Fact

This one is still up in the air.

"There's a lot of controversy here," said Dr. David Resnick, director of the Allergy and Immunology Division at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

There's no strong evidence to support the theory that a child will develop allergies after early exposure to allergens because of the mother's diet during pregnancy or while breast-feeding, but it's a possibility that may need to be researched further.

"Food allergens do cross the placenta and into the breast milk," said Michael Daines, a pediatric allergist at the University of Arizona and expert for the ABC News OnCall+ Allergy section. "There is some small benefit to avoiding the very allergenic foods during pregnancy and lactation."

On the other hand, eating a regular diet could stem an allergy. Resnick pointed out that in Israel, mothers do not avoid peanuts or peanut butter and there are fewer peanut allergies in that country, though there is no strong research to support a direct relationship.

By contrast, American mothers who already have children with allergies might be advised to avoid specific foods during a later pregnancy, based on the theory that the baby will not become allergic this way. However, peanut allergies in the United States have been rising dramatically in the last decade.

So while no strong evidence exists that eating these foods during pregnancy and breast-feeding causes problems, more concerned mothers can take that extra step.

Fact or Myth? Cow's milk is behind the rise in allergies in Western nations.

Answer: Myth

This theory about cow's milk looks to be, well, bull.

"I've not seen any studies that would suggest that's a viable option," said Wesley Burks, chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Duke University Medical Center.

Burks says that while many explanations have been offered for why allergies are rising in industrialized nations but not in developing ones, the milk theory is among the weakest.

To Burks, one explanation does stand out, however.

"There aren't great reasons for [the increase in allergies] now, other than the hygiene hypothesis," he said. "The theory would be that we're living too clean a lifestyle, and that's what causes the increase in allergic disease."

"There's some good evidence from Eastern European studies," said Burks. "Children that grew up with farm animals … there's significantly less allergic disease in those children."

So while drinking cow's milk may not cause your allergies, hanging around cows as a child might just keep allergies away.

Fact or Myth? Some foods only cause allergic reactions when eaten raw.

Answer: Fact

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