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Allergy and Your Child
|ASEHA Leaflet Series - Allergy|
What is allergy?
Allergy occurs when the body's immune system reacts in an unusual way to foods and airborne particles. Allergy can be caused by many substances.
How does your baby get allergy?
Specific allergies are not passed from generation to generation. However, children from families that have allergy are at greater risk of having allergic disease.
What are the symptoms of allergy…?
Allergic reactions can cause many symptoms which vary from child to child. Some problems caused by allergy are:
- hay fever;
- bowel problems.
Common causes of allergic reactions are:
- dairy foods;
- peanut butter;
- dust mites;
- animal hair;
- certain soaps and detergents may exacerbate skin rashes;
- cigarette smoking can increase the risk of a child developing allergy or respiratory disease.
Prevention and treatment of childhood allergy
Breast is best
Breast feeding is a good way to ensure that your infant has the best start in life. It is the safest and best food for infants.
In the first few weeks of life, breast milk confers natural immunity to your infant and contains food substances that are ideal for your child's digestion. Your breast milk is so perfect for your infant that it changes as required to meet your infant's need.
Exclusive breast feeding of babies that have allergic tendencies for the first six months, may diminish eczema and other allergic disorders.
Foods eaten by nursing mothers can be passed across breast milk and cause allergy in some babies. While it is important for a nursing mother to have a balanced diet and eat a wide variety of foods, some mothers may need special diets to ensure that they do not provoke allergic reactions in their infants. In this case it may be necessary to seek advice from a dietitian or other health care practitioner.
Assistance with breast feeding problems can be sought from the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia or an infant welfare nurse.
There are many breast milk substitutes (infant formulas) on the market. If breast feeding is not possible it is essential to select an infant formula carefully. However, most commercially available infant formulas contain cow's milk which is a common cause of allergy in infants.
Infants who react to cow's milk formulas may require a formula from an alternative source such as goat milk or soya. However, it is not uncommon for an infant with cow's milk allergy to react to goat milk and/or soya as well.
For infants with multiple food allergies, there are specialised formulas available. These are mostly used under medical or dietetic supervision.
When selecting a formula for your infant, it is a good idea to seek professional advice, especially if your infant has feeding problems. Because some milks e.g. skim milk or low fat milk are unsuitable as infant food, it is important that any complimentary food is a full nutritional supplement.
Solid food should not be introduced until an infant is 5-6 months old. Only small amounts of food should be introduced, one at a time.
New foods should be introduced several days apart and particular care should be taken when introducing foods that are common causes of allergic reaction i.e. milk, eggs, citrus, peanut butter. The introduction of these may need to be delayed for some time.
When solid foods are being introduced it is easy to establish if these are unsuitable for you infant. An unsuitable food can cause colic, burning urine, loose and smelly motions, rashes and a child that cannot settle.
If a food causes such problems it is best to avoid it for a few days, re-introduce it and check for a reaction. If there are a lot of foods involved it is best to seek advice from your doctor or dietitian.
Baby food should be prepared using fresh ingredients and should be free from food additives. Fresh organic whole foods grown free from chemical inputs are the best foods for your child.
Regular visits to your infant welfare nurse will assist with feeding problems and monitor your infant's growth and development.
Other things you can do
- Children can develop allergy to house dust, mould and animal hair. Exposure to these can be avoided by keeping pets outside, wet dusting, regular airing, vacuum cleaning and reducing mould.
- If your infant has eczema or some other skin problem, 100% cotton clothing and bedding is best with care taken to ensure the laundry detergent used does not irritate the skin.
- Avoid synthetic materials and perhaps wool.
- Avoid fragranced soap, detergents, nappy solution, bubble bath and other fragranced products.
- Baby bottles may be best boiled rather than sterilised in chemical solutions.
- If your infant reacts to food additives, make sure that all food is additive free.
- Make sure that any medications or vitamins prescribed for your infant are free of additives such as colourings, flavourings, preservatives, benzoates, citric acid, MSG.
- Ensure that medications or vitamins do not contain lactose, wheat or soya fillers it your child is allergic to these.
- Do not allow your infant to be in a room where anybody is smoking;
- Do not apply surface sprays in any room where your baby is present and keep them to a minimum elsewhere.
- It is best that strong detergents, disinfectants, air fresheners surface sprays, pesticides, perfumes etc are not used anywhere in your house at all whether baby is present or not. However, if they are used, always ensure that the house is well aired and no odours are present.
Is it really allergy?
Allergy-like reactions can occur to some foods and food additives such as preservatives, colourings, flavourings. Food additives can be found in many processed foods such as lollies, cakes and other bakery products, ice cream, biscuits, cordial. soft drinks. fruit juices. snack foods and processed meats.
Some children react to gluten in grains and lactose in dairy foods. These have similar symptoms to allergic reactions e.g. stomach pain, diarrhoea.
Will the child outgrow the allergy?
Many allergies disappear as children grow older. However, this does not happen in some instances and the allergy persists into later life.
Allergy needs to be identified as early as possible to control symptoms.
ASEHA Qld Inc
ALLERGY, SENSITIVITY & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION Qld Inc.
PO Box 96, Margate Qld 4019
Is there a connection between your chronic medical condition and Allergy, Food Intolerance or Chemical Sensitivity?
Last Updated (Saturday, 14 November 2009 03:39)