Sun and sensitivity

10 Aug

With allergies you often come across people who just look at you blankly when you say that your child is severely allergic to plenty of foods.  They don’t have a clue what that means in your daily life and might well just think its all in your head.  Well now I’ve made things worse for myself as I’ve come to realise that Adam’s sensitivity to allergens seems to be strongly related to how much sun he is getting.

It sounds loopy to say that a child can be comfortable in a playground on a sunny day but not on a cloudy day!  On the sunny day Adam will likely not get a single hive even when its very busy and kids are eating ice cream around him.  On a cloudy day or when he hasn’t had much sun for the preceding couple of days, he will be itching plentiful hives on his hands and his face and needing antihistamines.

Enjoying a Bessant and Drury frozen coconut desert on the way home after playing for hours in the sun at our local playground

I’d heard about a paper presented to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 2012 Annual Meeting in March that linked vitamin D levels in one year olds with incidents of food allergies.  Read more about it in this article.  At the time, I hadn’t really noticed a link with sun exposure although a friend had mentioned that her boy suffers more from his allergies during the winter.  So I wrote in April to a leading pediatric allergist to ask the following:

“I wanted to ask you what your opinion is with regards to the latest findings around the links between vitamin D and allergic reactions?  At the moment Adam is 2.5 years old and loves being outdoors so we are out in the sun for about 2-3 hours a day.  Do you think that it is reasonable to suspect that there is a link between the outdoors play in natural light and his apparent decreased sensitivity?”

He wrote back that:

There  is data to support this at a population level in Aus and USA, the data is weak but exists for populations and is only cross sectional ie no trials; so safe sun will be fine for many reasons and seems to be working so enjoy it. I routinely test for Vit D in children, esp if darker skinned, and in the UK this usually returns insufficient, esp now at end of winter.”

For us the difference in Adam’s sensitivity is so very marked that we might need to think about moving somewhere with more daily sun than where we currently live (Bristol, UK).

Now that I think about it, this topic links well to another blog post I have in the pipeline about our current pediatric allergist and how limited his approach is to caring for Adam.  He hasn’t mentioned anything about vitamin D whatsoever and his approach is to basically deal with the symptoms of allergies with inhalers and antihistamines rather than to try and inform us about things like the sun link.

But for now, enjoy the sun, and see if it affects your child’s sensitivity!  Do drop a comment if you’ve seen any differences in your child’s reactions when you’ve been out in the sun or even if you’ve also considered moving somewhere more sunny as a result!


One Response to “Sun and sensitivity”

  1. MyItchyBoy (@MyItchyBoy) August 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    My allergic son loves the sun! I wonder if he instinctively knows something I don’t. As recommended by dietician, he is on vitamins everyday that include vitamin D. I am certainly happier when in the sun and started taking vitamin D last winter as was quite down. However, never noticed any difference in either of our sensitivites. If anything, the heat does seem to play havoc wiht my son’s eczema. Interesting though.

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