Allergies

Allergies in Babies and Young Children

Allergies of all kinds are on the rise and rise. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that by 2020, 50% of western populations will suffer from an allergy of some kind!

The cause of the soaring rate of allergies is not known, but if you can identify what the allergy is, then at least you can avoid the substance, or substances.

Prevention

The best time to start prevention measures against allergies is during pregnancy. Mothers with a food allergy or intolerance can avoid those foods as soon as they know they are pregnant.

The next stage of prevention is managing how foods are introduced to babies. Breast-feeding for as long as possible can help to minimise the onset of an allergy. The WHO and other (Australian) child health authorities recommend that babies be totally breast fed until six months of age. Mothers with problems breastfeeding can get assistance from breast-feeding consultants who offer excellent services.

Where it is not possible to breast-feed, giving the right solids are crucial to avoid potential food allergies.

 

Foods

The main foods that cause allergies and intolerances are wheat, cows milk and its products, eggs and peanuts. The WHO recommends that babies need to be at least 12 months old before introducing wheat and its products (bread, pasta, weetbix, rusks, etc) and dairy products.

 

When a child (or adult) becomes fully allergic to wheat, they have coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is an allergy to the protein ‘gluten’ in wheat and other grains. Research is indicating that this is avoidable for some children.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2005; 293: 2343-51) reports on a study of 1560 children, showing that infants introduced to wheat, barley, or rye before the age of 3 months were more likely to develop early coeliac disease.

 

Is Your Child Allergic?

When a health problem recurs, and does not respond to usual treatments, then an underlying cause, often food related, can be the culprit.

Common symptoms caused by food intolerances are:

  • Abdominal bloating & pain
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Eczema
  • Headaches
  • Repeated infections
  • Tiredness

 

Improving digestion and gut function is a key factor in treating allergies.

 

Identifying the Allergy

Identifying a food allergy/intolerance often requires good detective work, whereas allergies can be tested with skin prick or blood tests. When your

The first part of treatment for food allergies is to identify and avoid the offending food, then to strengthen the digestion and immune system, so that problem foods can gradually be reintroduced.

We can provide assistance in making food choices and finding alternatives to foods like wheat and dairy products.

Diet

A healthy diet is of huge importance. The Mediterranean type diet (fish, olive oil, fresh fruit and veg, nuts and pulses) is less likely to produce allergic reactions. Children who eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop allergies. Eating nuts (if tolerated) more than three times a week also helps to reduce the likelihood of allergies. The antioxidants in fruit protects against the inflammation that is associated with allergies.

Margarine has been shown to double the risk of wheeze and allergic rhinitis. Margarine is a highly processed food and adversely affects the normal metabolism of other beneficial oils in the diet, like fish, and nuts. Fish oils have an anti – inflammatory affect on the body and can help with wheezing and eczema.

 

Asthma and allergies have been touted as conditions suffered by affluent children. Children who live in developing countries and rural areas eat a simpler, less refined diet suffer far fewer allergies. This may explain the allergy epidemic being seen in Australia and other developed countries.

 

Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, water instead of soft drinks, whole grain breads and cereals, minimal sugar, plus fresh fish twice a week can make a huge and beneficial impact on allergic symptoms. In some children, avoiding dairy products, including yoghurt and cheese, in some children, removes symptoms dramatically. It is easy to get adequate calcium from other foods like broccoli, tinned salmon, sardines, hummus, and seaweeds as found in Japanese food. Eating a wide variety of foods helps to ensure that nutritional needs are met.

 

Medications

Multiple studies show that giving babies antibiotics in their first year of life increases the likelihood of them developing allergies. Similar studies show the same with paracetamol. These medications are standard treatment for most kids when they get sick. Avoid them if at all possible, especially if there is a family history of allergies.

Drug-free solutions for common childhood problems are discusssed in our book Treat Your Child Yourself is an easy A-Z guide for parents to follow.

 

Treatment

For many children, a healthy diet is not enough to settle allergic reactions. Allergic kids often have low zinc levels and do well when they take a zinc supplement – liquids for kids are easy to take. We can assess zinc levels and check if a mineral imbalance of copper and zinc is present via a Hair Mineral Analysis Once identified, rectifying this is a relatively simple and easy treatment process.

Many, many children with allergies have parents who are also allergy sufferers. In these cases, homeopathic medicines are available to treat the ‘constitution.’ This requires a consultation and careful assessment, and an individually prescribed homeopathic medicine to be taken.

 

For more information on allergies, see also Gut Immunity.

 


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