Understanding the Risk of Allergies in Babies
Dear Baby Girl,
Soon we will meet and I cannot wait for your arrival! I suspect your parents may have many questions about you and how to take the best care of you as they await your birth. This is only natural and definitely an excellent sign that they will be “very good parents,” as your 96 year old great-grandmother predicts!
A common question I hear from moms and dads is, how can I keep my baby healthy? Another common concern is, will my baby have allergies and how will I know? Could there be allergic reactions? Are there warning signs?
The truth is, there are many types of reactions and these reactions can be mediated by various types of mechanisms.
In fact, reactions are a fickle thing; some are allergic and some are not. Some are inherited while others are acquired. Environmental factors can contribute to these latter type of reactions. Some reactions are acute and others are more subtle and may not present as a problem until enough allergens have accumulated overtime. This is a fascinating area of allergy and I look forward to sharing more detailed information in future letters.
Let’s start with some facts that we do know, Baby Girl.
Studies have shown that if neither parent has allergies, there is a 15% risk of the baby developing allergies.
If one parent has allergies, that risk is 30%.
If both parents have allergies, then the risk is 45%.
If both parents have the same allergic condition, then the risk is highest -- up to 80%*.
Don’t be alarmed by these numbers, you have smart and caring parents, and I know they will protect you as much as possible from developing allergies and reactions.
Since I know you are smart, your next question may be, how can my parents protect me?
Studies show that environmental factors play a major role in contributing to the development of allergies. For instance, airborne allergens such as house dust mites, mold, and animal dander can affect allergic nasal, eye, lung and skin conditions. Foods we eat can affect our tummy (gastrointestinal tract) and skin, as well as other parts of our bodies. If environmental or food allergies are suspected, speak to your pediatrician/primary care doctor to see if an allergy consultation is warranted. If allergens are identified, then the next best step to take is to take preventive steps and institute appropriate avoidance measures. We will talk more about this important topic soon, promise!
In addition to airborne allergens, air pollutants such as chemical agents can harm not just our lungs, but other parts of our body like our skin.
It has been estimated that over 85,000 chemicals in our world can trigger contact (skin) allergies and/or irritation.
Baby Girl, one day we will try to count up to 85,000 together! It is a huge number!
In short, environmental factors, the quality and types of foods we ingest, as well as the quality and types of chemical agents our bodies are exposed to can trigger inflammatory conditions that can affect our bodies. It’s too bad that inflammation is the bad guy, but we can handle it with your parents’ help. One approach that we can take is to act on what we can control; some examples are the foods we eat, the environment we live in and the skin care, as well as other products, we choose to use. Stay tuned, more to come!
That’s it for now, we will keep talking and learning together as you grow and thrive! Stay healthy and keep growing, developing and kicking. See you soon!
Your An-nie <3
Bousquet J and Kjellman N-I. J Allergy Clinical Immunology.
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---This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Kudos.
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