Allergies in children
In children, allergic disorders are very common.
Allergic diseases have increased significantly over the last 25 years especially in western countries.
In the USA, 40% of children suffer from allergic disorders at some point in their lives while 20% have current symptoms. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, eczema and food allergies are the allergic conditions most common in children.
Allergy Symptoms in Children
Abnormal immune responses to relatively harmless environment substances are the cause of allergic diseases.
For instance, an immune response in the eyes and nose to house dust mites and or grass pollens causes hay fever.
For some, symptoms of asthma or severe/moderate allergic rhinitis can have an impact on behavior and learning, can be debilitating and cause sleep deprivation.
There are some allergic conditions like mild allergic rhinitis that cause mild symptoms.
However, there are some allergies that are life threatening like severe food allergies, asthma that is poorly controlled or insect sting allergy.
How to prevent allergic diseases from developing
It’s sensible to try preventing these allergic conditions in children and infants as much as possible since there are presently no cures for these conditions although there are effective treatments that are accessible.
Some ‘risk factors’, identified in the recent research carried out, are known to increase the risk of developing allergic diseases. There are however other studies that aim to determine whether the risk will be reduced if these factors are to be avoided.
In children and infants, allergy prevention is an active area of research. However, we only have some answers.
Presently, in order to prevent children from allergy development, the optimal approach is to:
a) In children known to have a higher risk of developing allergic diseases, allergy prevention should be practiced.
b) Infants who have a higher chance of developing allergic diseases should be identified.
Which infants risk developing allergic diseases?
The risks of developing allergic conditions are increased by several factors.
There are environmental factors that can be influenced while there are some risk factors that cannot be controlled for instance the family history.
The risk factors that have been identified are:
1) Spring birth: this could cause seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
2) Solid food introduced before 3-4 months of age: this increases the risk for food allergy and eczema.
3) Family history: a sibling, parent or both parents could be associated with an allergic disease.
4) Cigarette smoke: risky respiratory symptoms increased by passive exposure to smoke.
5) Soy or cow milk introduced before 3-4 months: food allergy and eczema risk is increased.
Further information regarding allergies in children can be found here.