Allergy for baby & child

Allergy for baby & child

Basics

Allergies are serious defensive reactions of the body that occur in humans whenever the immune system feels attacked. In babies and children, such allergies can be very worrying, as their immune system is not yet as robust as that of a full-grown person.

In the case of an allergy, the body reacts with defensive substances against pathogens that attack the immune system. A process that takes place with every flu. Normally, these pathogens are viruses or bacteria. In the case of an allergy, however, the immune system also attacks normally harmless pathogens, such as pollen (this is called hay fever or a pollen allergy), or animal hair (an allergy to pets is the result). The defence reaction against these pathogens is problematic, since a clinical picture occurs that has been produced by a substance that is harmless in and of itself.

Causes

Allergens in babies and children

Allergies in children are relatively common. Every fourth child reacts allergically to various substances, but it must be said that allergies are not always severe and hardly restrict the child in his actions.

Allergens are the so-called triggers of an allergy. These can be found almost everywhere in nature. Allergens are found in animal hair, pollen, insect bites, dust mites, medicines and also in food.

These small, naturally occurring protein proteins enter the body through various pathways and alert the allergy sufferer's immune system. The allergens are absorbed through food, i.e. orally, or they enter the immune system through the respiratory tract. They can also be transmitted through the skin and allergens can also enter the body from insect bites.

In children in the first two years of life, most cases are food allergies and skin diseases.

The development of allergies in babies and children

Heredity is a buzzword that plays a big role in allergies. Children are usually allergy sufferers if first-degree relatives are also allergy sufferers. In general, this means that allergies are more likely to occur when parents or siblings suffer from allergies. However, heredity does not have to come into play. This means that it is perfectly possible to get an allergy even if your parents and siblings do not have allergies themselves.

If both parents suffer from hay fever, there is an 80 percent chance that the common child will also develop an allergy. If only one parent is affected, the risk is 30 percent. However, it is not possible to predict which allergens the child will suffer from in the case of an inherited allergy - only the body's readiness to have an allergic reaction is inherited.

Newborns and allergies

Since newborns do not yet have a fully developed immune system, preventive measures should be taken, especially in the case of a possible inheritance of the allergy. The immune system of babies and newborns must first gradually learn to protect itself against a large number of pathogens. An allergy can therefore be a great stressor for the body.

To reduce the allergic reactions one should pay attention to some basic behaviors.

  • Make sure not to smoke around the toddler. Secondhand smoke can be a negative factor for your child's health in many ways. To make matters worse, it can potentiate allergies.
  • Avoid early weaning. Since the immune system of newborns is not yet fully developed, important antibodies of the mother are passed into the body of the child via breast milk.
  • Refrain from excessive cleanliness. An overly sterile environment is not conducive to the health of the baby.
  • Talk to a doctor immediately if an allergy is possible and find out about possible allergen avoidance or immunotherapy.

Symptoms

How do I recognize that my child suffers from an allergy?

You can tell very early on whether your child is suffering from an allergy by the symptoms that appear. The following complaints can indicate an allergic disease:

  • Isolated occurrence of cough, which differs in intensity and eruptiveness from normal cough, is a sign of allergy.
  • Shortness of breath and whistling during breathing
  • Skin problems that show up as rashes on large areas of the body
  • Neurodermatitis in young children
  • Increased occurrence of symptoms during a particular time of year
  • Increased occurrence of symptoms after ingestion of certain foods
  • Increased occurrence of symptoms after an insect bite
  • Increased occurrence of symptoms after taking medications

Allergic reactions primarily affect the eyes, skin, respiratory system, and digestive tract. Itchy redness of the skin (eczema, neurodermatitis) and a noticeable rash on the skin can be indicators of an allergic reaction. Swollen eyelids or conjunctivitis also make an allergy recognizable. In the case of the respiratory tract, one may react with hay fever and asthmatic symptoms. In the case of diarrhoea and abdominal pain, the gastrointestinal tract is affected. The reactions can occur suddenly or be chronic.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of allergy in children and babies

Diagnosis is more difficult in babies and children than in an adult. To facilitate the diagnosis of the doctor, you can immediately take the following steps:

In any case, the child's medical history (known by the technical term anamnesis) should be disclosed, as well as the family history. All too often children tend to develop allergies if allergies are already prevalent in the immediate family.

Very often a connection between the cause and the signs of the disease can be recognized at an early stage. For example, a cough or cold attack is obvious after contact with a pet (e.g. asthma after contact with dogs).

Attention should also be paid to the manner of the discomfort. Is it attack-like, cyclical, seasonal, continuous, or localized. Keeping a complaint calendar may prove helpful.

The doctor then examines the child and can be more specific based on the precautionary steps taken.

Allergy tests are available to diagnose an allergy, although a positive allergy test does not necessarily mean that there is evidence of an allergy.

Different types of diagnosis

Allergies can be detected with the skin test (a distinction is made between prick test and intradermal test) and with immunological tests from a blood sample (RIST or RAST).

In skin tests, the skin reaction to allergens applied to the skin is tested. In the prick test, a drop of the presumed allergen is applied to the skin and then the skin is scratched with a needle. If the skin reacts after 10 minutes, an allergy can be assumed.

Small amounts of the suspected allergen are injected into the skin during the intradermal test. This test makes it possible to test different allergen concentrations.

Provocation tests (intranasal and inhalation) are also available for diagnosis. Here, the reactions of an organ to a specific allergen are specifically examined. The allergen is inhaled, applied to the nasal mucosa or the conjunctiva of the eye. This test should only be carried out as an in-patient in hospital because of its possible severe allergic reactions.

In the so-called patch test (also epicutaneous test), the allergen is applied to the back in an aluminium chamber. The reaction can be read after 48 and 72 hours. If there is hypersensitivity to the allergen, the skin reacts after a period of 5 to 20 minutes.

The blood test tests the patient's blood for antibodies (immunoglobulins). Based on these, an allergic tendency can be determined.

Therapy

The goal of therapy should be to achieve freedom from symptoms as far as possible. Avoiding the allergen, as well as medication-based treatment and immunotherapy can help.

Allergens can of course only be avoided if one has been able to ascertain through an examination which allergens one reacts to. Based on this knowledge, one can then adjust one's behavior.

The medicinal treatment will in and of itself be both local and systemic. If the eyes are affected by an allergy, then one can resort to eye drops in the case of a local treatment, in the case of a systemic treatment one gets a preparation administered.

Different medicines are available for the treatment of the allergy. However, parents also like to resort to alternative measures for their children. These can be used as a supplement to the treatment.

Prevent

Our children should not be exposed to the allergen once they have been diagnosed with an allergy. This means that if you are allergic to pollen, you should not necessarily play outside when the pollen count is at its highest.

By no means, however, does an allergy mean that you should let your children grow up in a germ-free environment.

Why is a sterile environment not beneficial for a child to develop allergies?

Especially in the last 35 years, the cases of children with allergies have increased. This is mainly due to the fact that our living conditions have changed. We are less often in nature and the pollution of the air in the cities affects our health. Genetically modified foods also contribute to our developing allergies.

The changes in the way we live and dwell has led to children growing up in what is called a "germier environment". As we, and our children, are exposed to fewer bacteria and viruses from our environment, the immune system may be directed against structures that are native to the body.

This means that children who were exposed to viral respiratory infections in their first year of life were less likely to develop asthma.

Try not to let your children grow up in a germ-free environment. Playing with other children in the sandbox is part of healthy development.

Ad

Ad

Your personal medicine assistent

Drugs

Search our database for drugs, sorted from A-Z with their effects and ingredients.

Substances

All substances with their common uses, chemical components and medical products which contain them.

Diseases

Causes, symptoms and treatment for the most common diseases and injuries.

The contents shown do not replace the original package insert of the medicinal product, especially with regard to dosage and effect of the individual products. We cannot assume any liability for the correctness of the data, as the data was partly converted automatically. A doctor should always be consulted for diagnoses and other health questions. Further information on this topic can be found here.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.