Did you know that 50% of young children in the UK now suffer from some sort of allergy, much higher than a generation ago?
An Allergy is an immune reaction causing local or systemic acute inflammation in susceptible individuals after repeated exposure to Allergens.
Allergic symptoms can affect:
- the nose, throat, ears, eyes (eg. runny nose & sore eyes, constant cold–like symptoms, seasonal Hay Fever)
- airways (which can trigger Asthma)
- digestion (nausea & vomiting etc)
- skin (swelling, hives, itchy rash, and can trigger Eczema)
Symptoms can be mild, moderate or life-threatening in form.
The most common Allergens are food (eg peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soya), pollen, house dust mites, pets and insect stings. Your child may grow out of some of these allergies by the time they reach 6 years old (eg. milk & egg allergies often disappear as does baby eczema), but many will continue as they grow up.
Research indicates that some allergies are genetic, however some aren’t, so you can help minimise your baby’s chance of developing allergies by following some simple advice:
Environment plays an important part in the development of allergies, and babies may be more sensitive to certain environmental factors than older children. Key advice would be:
Feeding & Weaning
- Early treatment of eczema and other skin conditions may halt other allergy development
- To protect the skin you may wish to bathe your baby in just plain water for the first month
- If your baby is born with or develops very dry skin, ask for advice from your GP, Midwife, or Health Visitor. There are special creams and bath products available on prescription, made specifically for very young babies
- Nappy rash is common in all babies. However, consider seeking medical advice when nappy rash spreads outside the nappy area, or the skin is broken or weeping
- Use a non-biological clothes washing product
- Do not smoke around infants and young children
- Avoid spraying chemical cleaners, or deodorants around your baby
- Breastfeeding for six months can help protect against allergy developing in later childhood and supports the development of your baby’s immune system
- Current guidelines suggesting weaning your baby at around six months of age may help prevent the development of allergies
- When weaning, introduce new foods one at a time
- Don’t delay introducing foods after six months, even if you are a high risk family. The Department of Health advises that parents of children at risk of allergy should ask their GP, health visitor or allergy specialist before introducing foods containing peanuts
- Soya-based formula is not recommended, especially for babies under six months old
- The Department of Health advises against the use of goats’ milk formula for children under the age of one year
- Don’t automatically introduce other types of milk as an alternative to cows’ milk – if your young child is allergic to cows’ milk, they are also likely to be allergic to other milk
While there may be no cure for your child’s allergy, there are positive steps that can be taken to reduce the number and frequency of allergens that your child is exposed to which can reduce the number and intensity of allergy attacks that your child has.
Treatment & Advice
More help can be found at Allergy UK
, the leading national charity dedicated to supporting the estimated 21 million allergy sufferers in the UK - www.allergyuk.org
or 01322 619898.
They also run an annual Allergy Awareness week which this year is 28 April to 02 May