Study Links Baby Wipes to Food Allergies in Children

Study Links Baby Wipes to Food Allergies in Children

Baby wipes are one of the mummy must-haves we can't do without. But can they really cause food allergies? Find out what this new study claims, below.

Baby wipes are a must-have essential for most mums. Besides their primary purpose, which is cleaning baby’s nappy area, baby wipes are very convenient for a host of other things — especially cleaning up  after the kids after meals. However, a new study is asserting that baby wipes and food allergies are closely linked.

Over the past decade or so, there has been a rise in the number of kids who develop food allergies. So far, there have not been any conclusive studies as to how food allergies start or how they can be cured. 

So for years, researchers have ventured to give parents a clearer picture of how to protect kids from food allergies. A past study has explored the role of genetics (and even personality) in developing allergies. While another study explored how those whose siblings have food allergies are less prone to developing it.

One study tried to shed light on why allergies appearing during adulthood. Meanwhile, some ongoing studies seek to finally end food allergies through technology.

Baby Wipes and Food Allergies: What’s the Connection?

baby wipes and food allergies

Baby wipes and food allergies: Baby wipes, particularly those with soap, tend to change a baby’s skin layer, making them prone to allergies. | Image source: file photo

Now, researchers from Northwestern University are adding their own scientific findings to the mix. They claim to have found a recipe that triggers food allergies. The ingredients? Dust, genetics, food, and — get this — baby wipes. Yes, the mum essential you keep handy to make sure your kid stays clean can cause allergies. 

According to the study, these can trigger a “perfect storm” of allergies. But baby wipes are just one ingredient in the mix of contributing factors. 
“This is a recipe for developing food allergy,” lead study author Joan Cook-Mills said in a statement. “It’s a major advance in our understanding of how food allergy starts early in life.”

How Was the Study Conducted?

  • Researchers tested their theory on newborn mice. They first exposed the mice to peanuts, which is one of the most common food allergens. But there was no reaction.
  • Then, they altered the mice’s skin top layer by exposing it to ingredients found in baby wipes. They also altered their genes so that they’ll develop a skin barrier dysfunction.
  • Next, they exposed the mice’s skin to food and dust for 40 minutes over a period of two weeks.
  • After this, they were given egg and peanuts, both common allergens.
  • They found that only the mice with altered skin layers showed skin allergies, intestinal allergies, and even anaphylaxis.

While further research needs to happen to confirm exactly what the food-allergy triggering point is, these findings take us one step closer to finding the answer.


baby wipes and food allergies

Baby wipes and food allergies might seem unconnected, but this study informs parents that one can never be too careful. Your baby’s skin is so sensitive! | Image source: Shutterstock

Key Takeaways of the Study for Mums and Dads

1. Babies are often exposed to food allergens on their skin

Environmental allergens in the home aren’t just dust. 

“They may not be eating food allergens as a newborn, but they are getting them on their skin,” explains Cooks-Mills in a statement. “Say, a sibling with peanut butter on her face kisses the baby. Or a parent is preparing food with peanuts and then handles the baby.”

2. Some children with food allergies also have atopic dermatitis

Researchers referred to a past study that found 35 percent of children with food allergies also have atopic dermatitis. Because of this condition, their genetics make their skin barrier weak. 

3. Baby wipes can change the top layer of the skin

With prolonged, frequent use, baby wipes can alter the top layer of a baby’s skin. But those at risk for baby wipes and food allergies are those with eczema.

The study found that constant use of baby wipes is not the only cause of food allergies. But it is a combination of genetics (skin condition) as well as environmental factors, like leaving soap residue on baby’s skin.

So how can parents lower the risk of this ‘perfect storm’ of allergies?

Study Links Baby Wipes to Food Allergies in Children

Hygiene. Cleaning Hands. Washing hands.

  • Wash hands thoroughly before carrying or handling the baby.
  • Don’t use soapy baby wipes too much.
  • Rinse soap thoroughly with water. 
  • Keep your home clean and free of dust and other allergens.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time and consult your doctor if you have any qualms about them.

Mums and dads, it’s always better to know the symptoms of a food allergy. You should watch out for:

  • Facial tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat, or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you suspect your child is allergic to certain foods, bring them to the paediatrician immediately. You can also consult a doctor for possible allergy tests to know for sure. Just now that it is rarely done on babies under six months of age. 


Sources: Science Daily, Science Alert, Good Housekeeping, Mayo Clinic

ALSO READ: Giving your baby eggs can prevent future allergies

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Any views or opinions expressed in this article are personal and belong solely to the author; and do not represent those of theAsianparent or its clients.

Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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