Baby Allergies

Baby allergies are often the cause of baby asthma, which is a debilitating disease that frightens parents when they are first confronted with it, and never ceases to be a cause for concern even after treatment has begun. When the tubes carrying air to the lungs become constricted and their linings inflamed, the patient has difficulty getting air through them. Breathing takes on a wheezing sound as the baby suffers shortness of breath. It is not an uncommon condition in very young children. Ten to fifteen percent of American children in grade school have or have had asthma as infants. There are a number of common substances that cause allergic reactions in babies, resulting in asthma. The most common causes of baby allergies are: dust and dust mites, cockroaches, animals such as cats and dogs, molds, and secondhand cigarette smoke. Ironically, there is evidence showing that very early exposure to pets and some infections seem to reduce the risk of developing asthma.

Baby asthma that occurs more than twice weekly should be treated with medications or by avoiding the environmental factors that produce the symptoms. Once the baby allergens have been identified, the family can work to reduce or completely eliminate the causes, and thereby reducing the frequency of the asthma attacks. Simple actions such as putting plastic coverings on pillows and mattresses, and getting rid of stuffed toys and carpet may be recommended. Indoor pets may have to stay outdoors instead--or at least out of the child's room, and get frequent baths. There are vacuum cleaners that have air filters that reduce the incidence of dust mites. Keeping the house free of pests such as cockroaches by regular pest treatment may help. Preventing mold from developing in the home is another important action parents can take to prevent baby allergies and baby asthma.

Infections of the nose and throat, pneumonia and sinus infections can be asthma triggers, so protecting the baby from being around infected people and unhealthy environments is important. Cigarette and other smoke can be avoided more easily now than in years past because society has become so conscious of the danger to everyone from these pollutants, but other things that pollute our air are not so easily avoided. Parents have to be on guard to the dangers and do the best they can by paying attention to the air quality reports. Reducing humidity in the air helps prevent baby asthma episodes, so if the child lives in a climate-controlled environment (central heat and air), it is the safest air he or she can breathe. We are reminded in scripture that good health is something God wants for us. "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (3 John 1:2)

When baby allergies causing asthma attacks persist in spite of the best efforts of the family to make the environment safe from baby allergies, medical intervention may be necessary. Asthma medications come in several forms: Metered dose inhalers, dry powder inhalers, liquids that can be used in nebulizers, and pills. Obviously, the liquids that can be used in nebulizers are the best to use in the case of an infant. The medication is then inhaled directly into the air passages where it does the most good. Also, this kind of medication and the other inhalers have the least side effects, which makes them the preferred treatments for all ages.

There are two groups of asthma medications: Quick relief medications and controller medications. Quick-relief meds are those mentioned above, designed for short-term use to open up narrow breathing passages and help relieve wheezing and breathlessness. Controller meds reduce the number of days or nights a child has symptoms, and are not used for relief of symptoms. Babies with symptoms more than twice a week or who wake up more than twice per month should be controller medications. Inhaled corticosteroids are the preferred controller medication for all ages. They are safe for most children.

Diagnosing baby asthma can be difficult because other problems produce similar symptoms. The pediatrician will do a careful examination of the child, and will ask the parents a number of questions before stating that the infant is suffering from asthma. He will need a description of all the symptoms the parents have witnessed, and will ask if they know what triggers the symptoms or what makes them worse. He will want a list of medications tried, and whether or not they helped. Knowledge of a family history of allergies or asthma will be helpful. Asthma does seem to run in families.

Testing of the child's airway function will help determine whether or not asthma is actually the cause of the child's problem. Testing may be done before and after asthma medication has been given to show that the medication is having a positive effect. If medication does not help, there may be complicating factors such as hay fever, sinus infection, or heartburn. Not every child who wheezes has asthma. Some are born with smaller than normal lungs, and infections can cause blockage of air passages. As their lungs grow, they no longer wheeze after an infection.

Child Food Allergies

Child food allergies go undiagnosed for many children under the age of 10 due to unnoticeable or unusual symptoms. Oftentimes what appears as deviant behavior toward a parent is actually a response to bad reactions a kid is having with a certain food. Two different effects are possible as a reaction to the consumption of certain products: allergy and intolerance. Where allergy is a reaction to food protein, intolerance is a reaction to the chemicals in the foods. Family history and unusual exposure to chemicals or ethnic foods may trigger new reactions. Infant food allergies are common including eggs, milk, and peanut butter. Some kids grow out of the reactions when the central nervous system and immune system reaches a certain maturity level. Diagnosis of any intolerance or allergies requires some careful attention to behavior. Symptoms like hay fever, eczema, or asthma indicate allergies, while migraine, digestive problems, and behavior problems indicate intolerance. These reactions are not common affecting under 10% of babies and even fewer children, however food intolerance is much more common and goes undiagnosed much more frequently.

Due to the high level of serious allergic reactions that have developed over the years, many pediatricians advise parents to avoid certain foods before a specific age to minimize the probability of a reaction. These rules are not applicable to all people, but rather a generalization meant as a guide to follow. Some infant food allergies will follow kids well into late childhood or even adulthood. Pay careful attention to the overall development and special needs of each specific kid. This includes behavior changes as well as developmental milestones, which may be affected by allergies or intolerance. Links to child food allergies connect ADHD in children under 10, but the condition (especially if untreated) will follow a child into adulthood. Treatment takes the form of drugs, special classes, but more successfully in the change of diet. Health stores offer a variety of natural and organic supplements as well as replacement products for the cuisine that causes problems. Talking with a professional or conducting research concerning the best companies to purchase from is crucial to making the best decision about a quality product. "For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after." (Jeremiah 30:17)

Diagnosing which items cause the reaction can be documented through a journal recording all items consumed and the behavior or reaction following. Some intolerance does not occur until hours after consumption, but allergic reactions happen immediately making it hard to determine the cause. Typically a person reacts to only one or two items, which may be ingredients in many dishes consumed. Likewise with intolerance, the troubling chemical may be an ingredient in the majority of foods eaten. These chemicals are not only synthetic, but natural as well. An elimination diet and switching to organic foods may be the only way to identify these problems. Other symptoms of child food allergies might include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and even death. Intolerance includes all of the above mentioned plus gastrointestinal problems, CNS related impairment, and respiratory issues. Tests to prove infant food allergies include skin prick tests, but more appropriately a successful elimination diet will save a baby from a painful experience.

Once specific items are targeted reading food labels is crucial. The FDA has answered the concern of these issues by requiring clear and concise labeling for all products especially those containing highly allergic ingredients such as peanut butter. Unfortunately the FDA cannot watch over every company every day to ensure what they are printing on the label is accurate. Sometimes ingredients change, but labels stay the same. Some families dealing with this issue resort to homemade products such as bread, baking mixes, and even cereal. Avoiding chemicals and cross-contamination is generally worth the effort given toward cuisine preparation. Manufacturers are, however, changing the wording on the labels to clearly communicate the ingredients instead of using secondary or Latin names. In addition, processing plants are using specific clean up procedures after using highly allergic foods as well as producing items without highly allergic ingredients first. The media is not shy about reporting problems manufacturers have and lawsuits that are filed. A quick Internet search will uncover any problems or solutions certain manufacturers have had in order to make the best consumer decision.

Many national and regional organizations have formed to address questions and inform concerned citizens about the advances and techniques related to living with allergic reactions. Child food allergies affect the whole family especially when specific items cause serious effects. Eating at a restaurant is even more of a challenge and may be avoided altogether to ensure safety. Creative ways to have convenience options are available within these organizations. Making meals ahead of time and freezing them create a similar effect to eating out. Likewise, a dehydrator offers more options with homemade items. Even though items are homemade, the ingredients need to be carefully monitored and evaluated for safe consumption. Babies with infant food allergies are more sensitive to common products even through breast milk. Colic and light sensitivity has even been linked to intolerance or allergy. Keeping track of all environmental changes help identify stimulants that may cause child food allergies. This may include a move to a new city where different brands of food have to be purchased or a change to income causing a change in the quality of food purchased. Any small change in environment can contribute to reactions caused by consumption.



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