Where is all that yellow pollen coming from?

Anyone living in Phoenix will have noticed a coating of  bright yellow on neighborhood streets, parked cars, sidewalks, and yards this spring. It’s everywhere.   So what is it?  And perhaps more important, “Does it cause allergies?”  In April through May the answer is usually the Palo Verde tree.  Palo Verde (which is Spanish for green pole, named for it’s green trunk and branches) is the state tree of Arizona and produces a conspicuous bright yellow flower in the spring.  As to causing allergies, the Palo Verde tree is one exception to the rule.   Pollen in the air causes allergy symptoms: runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, stuffy nose, congestion, etc.   As a rule, plants that go to the trouble to produce beautiful, fragrant, conspicuous flowers do so to attract  insects or birds which they rely on to distribute there pollen to distant plants.    These flowers contain a heavy, sticky pollen designed to stay put in the flower until carried away by bees and the like, and so very little is in the air to cause allergy symptoms.    On the other hand, plants that rely on the wind to carry their pollen around produce small, inconspicuous flowers, but lots of light, dry pollen that floats easily in the breeze and to your nose and eyes.   Palo Verde is an insect pollinated tree and therefore should not be a major allergen.  However, as can be witnessed on the sidewalks and streets of  Ahwatukee, Chandler, and Tempe this spring, there are so many trees producing  flowers that the sheer volume causes pollen to find it way into the air, particularly when the wind blows.

Excessive folate levels and early allergen avoidance during pregnancy may make a difference in your baby’s risk of developing allergic diseases.

It has long been known that the choices you make during pregnancy can have a lasting impact, but new research shows folate levels and food allergen intake during pregnancy could influence whether your child will develop food allergies or asthma.

Folate Levels
An adequate folate level is recommended for women during pregnancy because it is essential in fetal development and lowers the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Yet, results from a recent study presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the AAAAI indicate that too much of a good thing may produce negative consequences.
Children born to mothers who had plasma folate levels in the top 20% had an increased risk of asthma at age three in comparison to those mothers who had the lowest levels. The researchers also found that as the mother’s plasma folate level increased so did the risk of asthma in the child.
Getting enough folate is important, but too much may cause risks. That is why it is important for pregnant women to follow the advice of their physicians.

Food Allergens
We all laugh at strange pregnancy craving stories, but if you have a child with a food allergy, does avoiding food allergens during a subsequent pregnancy make a difference in a possible allergy or asthma diagnosis for the baby?
Another study presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting focused on pregnant women who have food allergic children. This group avoided food allergens in the third trimester of pregnancy, during breast feeding and into the second year of life. Emphasis was placed on avoiding nuts, but egg and milk intake were also monitored.
As a result, the babies had significantly lower rates of peanut and egg sensitivity at both 18 and 36 months, and these babies were less likely to develop symptoms of asthma at both ages.