How to prevent your child from developing allergies?

It is important to keep things that are allergic to your child out of their environment, says Dr Ravi Kiran

allergy

Does your child sneeze or cough a lot, develops rashes or hives
frequently? Are these symptoms of allergies?

Any child can develop allergies. The word ‘allergy’ means altered energy and not ‘no energy’ as commonly perceived. They don’t have less immunity but have misdirected immune reaction. During the early stages of immunological development, the body, if exposed to different antigens in appropriate doses, develops tolerance to those antigens. The allergen will usually be part of the environment of the baby. If this initial exposure is inadequate, later exposure can manifest as allergy.

Common allergy sources

If allergic symptoms are already present, parents should be cautious when their child is exposed to certain stimuli such as dust, pet or animal hair or fur, pigeon droppings, dust mites, smokes, etc. or something they eat. It is important to keep things that are allergic to your child out of their environment.

Immunity

Immunity is of two types — innate and adaptive — and allergy is a part of both. It also protects the body from bacteria, foreign particles, and defends against harmful pathogens. Modifying the antigenic exposures in a baby who is inherently prone to allergy may help to alter the allergic tendency.

One of the most common types of allergies seen in both children and adults is food allergy. Food allergy, in its severe form, can be life-threatening. Approximately, 8% of children above three years are found to be allergic to some kind of food such as cow milk, egg, peanut and white fish. Except for peanut allergy, others are 70% outgrown by six years and 80% by 10 years. Peanut allergy, although rare, will persist for life in 80%.

Treatments

Allergic treatment methods range from nasal rinses, sprays or oral medication. Breastfeeding should be continued until six months of age. For most infants, solid food, including allergenic foods must be introduced at six months of age. Only a small subset of children with severe eczema and egg allergy require in-hospital testing. Early skin moisturisation may help to prevent food allergy as well. For already manifested food allergies, systematic desensitisation can be considered.

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