Allergies are among the top chronic diseases in children.
Children, including babies, tend to be affected by different allergic reactions, and while some outgrow them as they become older, others fail to do so and grapple with the condition throughout their lives.
What is an Allergy?
An allergy is an immune system response to a foreign substance that’s not typically harmful to your body. These foreign substances are called allergens. They can include certain foods, pollen, dust, detergents used to wash clothes among others.
Like older children and adults, babies can have allergies to the foods they eat, the things they touch, and the unseen particles they inhale in the home or outdoors. And when your baby has symptoms of any kind, it can be difficult to figure out what’s wrong because a little one can’t describe those symptoms.
Children can inherit the tendency to become allergic from their parents, but only a few develop active allergic disease.
There are many specific allergies a baby can have, though they can generally be divided into one of three categories:
- food and medicine
While allergic reactions to food or medications usually happen soon after an item has been consumed-they can be either very mild or life-threatening-environmental allergies, on the other hand, can be things that touch your baby’s skin, such as detergent in clothes, or things that are inhaled, such as dust. Environmental allergies can affect your baby year-round.
Though uncommon in babies, allergies to dust, pets, mold, pollen, insect stings, and other things in the environment may trigger allergy symptoms that affect the head and chest, such as:
- red and itchy eyes
- coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness
- a runny nose
What causes allergies in babies?
It is not clear why some babies have a particular allergy and others don’t. Family history may play a role. So if you have a specific allergy, your baby may also have that allergy or be more likely to develop another allergy.
Causes of environmental allergies
Common triggers of environmental allergies include:
- pet dander, such as from a house cat or dog
- dust mites, which can be found in mattresses or bed linen
- household cleaners
- soaps and shampoos
Diagnosing allergies in babies
The only way to be sure your baby has an allergy, and not frequent upper respiratory infections or other condition, may be for a doctor to perform an allergy test or a combination of tests. These tests are often less accurate in babies, though.
Take your baby to see a doctor, should you suspect an allergic reaction. This is especially if you notice that they have trouble breathing, wheezing etc. The main treatment for a baby allergy is to eliminate exposure to the allergen. The best way to avoid allergies is to stay away from whatever triggers the reaction. If that’s not possible, there are treatment options available.
Where to get help
Take your child to see a doctor if you suspect that they could be reacting to an environmental trigger. Do not self-medicate or ignore symptoms as they may get worse if not managed. .
#Please note that development differs from one child to another.
#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.
Last reviewed January 2019