Preventing Allergies in Children

What are allergies? An allergy occurs when a person's immune system reacts to an "allergen" - a substance in the environment that does not bother most people and causes a reaction. Many have experienced, or know someone who experiences allergies. Allergies themselves are related to genetic and environmental factors. Did you know there are ways in which you can prevent allergens from occurring?

What do allergies look like? Allergies present themselves in many different ways, including anywhere from hives, to redness, to itchiness, to asthma, to skin conditions. Allergies could be a condition someone deals with for their entire life. They can be uncomfortable, irritating, and affect every day activities. Both seasonal and food allergies present themselves in these ways.

Here is a current list of the top 14 food allergens:

How can you prevent allergies in children?

There are certain steps you can take to prevent allergies from developing in children at a young age. While not everything is absolutely certain, these tips can help reduce your child's chances of developing food and environmental allergies.

1. Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mom and baby. When a mother breast feeds, she passes along the antibodies from her body to her baby. For all infants, breastfeeding is recommended for the first 4-6 months. If breastfeeding is not an option, look for a hypo-allergenic formula.

2. Having a pet. Exposure to pets is said to reduce the risk of allergies towards pet dander. Researchers have found that teenagers with exposure to pets at a young age are half as likely to develop allergies than without a pet. Having a pet in the home within the 1st year of life could reduce the risk of allergies in the future.

3. Limit antibiotics. Antibiotics at a young age may contribute to allergies, eczema, and hay fever later in life. While in some cases antibiotics are absolutely unavoidable, it is important to be certain antibiotics are necessary. Probiotics during and after a course of antibiotics will help reduce the chance and prevent reoccurrence of the infection.

4. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood is associated with increased risk in the development of food allergies. Exposure also increases the risk of eczema. Always avoid secondhand smoke exposure in children.

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