Allergies in Children

When a child develops an allergy, it is important to discover and address the underlying causes rather than ignore them by merely administering medication.

Common causes of allergies in children

Food allergies are one of the main allergies that children tend to suffer from, particularly towards milk and nuts. However other common allergens that children are sensitive to are latex and dust. Although asthma is not an allergy, it is common in children and can be activated or irritated by some of the same allergens, such as dust and sometimes food and drink – milk for example.

Food allergies

Frequently the cause of an allergy will be found within the child’s diet. If the child is young and still being breast-fed, it is also important to examine the mother’s diet. The main problem areas, which seem to cause or aggravate allergies, are gluten and dairy. The child’s allergies should clear up if these are eliminated from the mother’s, and therefore the infant’s, diet. Also increasing a child’s intake of omega-3 fats should help, such as is found in walnut oil, flaxseed oil and, by far the most common and beneficial, fish oil.

Symptoms indicating a dairy allergy

Partly as a result of more recent generations decreasing the length of time they breastfeed their babies for, many children have developed allergies to dairy. Studies have shown that the later cow’s milk is introduced into an infant’s diet, the less likely it is that they will develop a dairy allergy. Symptoms of this can vary greatly but can include any of the following: diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, flatulence, asthma attacks, catarrh, and eczema. However, these symptoms could also indicate an illness or even a different allergy.

What if I think my child has a dairy allergy?

It is important to make sure that this is the case and that it is a dairy allergy rather than lactose intolerance. Going to an allergist or your doctor can help make sure that it is diagnosed correctly. Many parents with a child with either of these complaints worry about whether they are getting enough calcium. Again a visit to an allergist, doctor or even nutritionist can reassure you and give you all of the information you need. Foods rich in calcium and magnesium, but that are not dairy, include vegetables such as cabbage, sprouts, broccoli and spinach. Nuts are also a good source of these, as are pine nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Precautions for a latex allergy

It can be difficult to avoid the offending allergens if you have a child with a latex allergy, and particularly frustrating for the child. Keeping them away from balloons, stickers, art materials, etc. can be problematic, especially in areas such as children’s parties or at school. You should make yourself, and those who supervise your child while you are not there, aware of all of the products that actually contain latex. Even the stickers handed out at school for good work have latex in them. Similarly, stickers on fruit might cause your child to have a reaction.

Inform your child’s nursery or school

Regardless of your child’s allergy it is important to inform their school or nursery to avoid them being exposed to allergens that could cause them to have an allergic reaction, or at least to attempt to reduce this exposure. Similarly, if your child does suffer a reaction, the staff there will already be vigilant for this possibility and be prepared to try and treat the symptoms.

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