When Parents Have Allergies, Children Are More at Risk
Numerous studies have shown that allergies are, to some extent, genetic. Two parents with allergies have a 70% chance of having a child with allergies; this number drops to 48% if only one parent has allergies. However, in studies of fraternal and identical twins, 65% of identical twins had allergies and only 7% of fraternal twins. This shows that while genetics do play a factor in the presence of allergies, there are other factors involved as well.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is research that supports prenatal exposure to allergens may affect the child after birth. What a mother eats during pregnancy may affect her child's response to certain allergens after birth. For example, a baby whose mother eats peanuts during pregnancy is much more likely to have a peanut allergy. If the mother eats peanuts while breastfeeding, the risk is less, but still present. However, breastfeeding for at least six months to a year has been shown to the overall risk of the child developing food allergies. Breastfeeding also reduces the severity of allergies in general.
Limit Children's Exposure To Other Allergens
There are other common allergens that early exposure in childhood may lead to allergies later on. Babies who are exposed to pets early in life have an increased risk of being allergic as they age. The same goes for cigarette smoking. While pregnant women and new mothers should not smoke at all, or expose their children to smoke, we have to acknowledge that it happens. Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke are more than twice as likely of becoming allergic to it later in life.
Symptoms Of Children's Allergies
Common symptoms of allergies include:
- Watery, red eyes
- Stuffy nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
If your child exhibits these symptoms, call your doctor or take your child to the hospital. If your child is in shock, or their breathing is severely restricted, call 911.
- Swelling in the face, lips, tongue or throat
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing
- Symptoms lasting longer than 1-2 weeks
- Sudden increase in the severity of symptoms
These are all warning signs of a severe allergic reaction. You'll want to have your child evaluated and your doctor may require you carry an allergy kit, which will contain a shot of epinephrine, antihistamine tablets, and instructions on how to use them. The epinephrine shot is used when a person entered into anaphylaxis shock. If this happens, you'll administer the shot, then immediately call 911 or take the child to the hospital. Most children with severe allergies wear a wristband identifying the child, their allergens, and a number to call in case of emergency.
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