Over-hygienic lifestyles are making increasing numbers of children to suffer from allergies caused by reactions to everyday foods such as milk and bread, experts claim.
Previous generations were exposed to more dirt and microorganisms, which kickstarted their immune systems. Other causes could include Caesarean births, which may affect the immune system, and early use of antibiotics.
Dr Nikhil Thapar of Great Ormond Street Hospital, London said his unit investigates hundreds of children a year with gut allergies.
A rising number are affected by common foods such as cow's milk, wheat, soya, eggs, celery, kiwi fruit and other fruit and vegetables.
Food allergy can take the form of a sudden life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis, as well as eczema or an itchy rash. Studies estimates 4 per cent of children have a food allergy.
"We see a vast number of children and an increasing number who are affected by allergies to common foods," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"These include cow's milk, wheat, soya, eggs, celery, kiwi fruit and other fruit and vegetables - foods they are exposed to early on in life.
'The burden of disease for these children is significant, they suffer distressing symptoms such as abdominal and bowel pain and miss school as a result," he added.