Allergies for child
The tendency to develop allergies runs in families. If one parent is affected the likelihood that a child will be allergic is 40 per cent; if both parents are allergic the child has a 70 to 80 per cent chance of developing symptoms.
Allergies are the result of the body forming excessive quantities of Immunoglobulin E (Ig E) as a reaction to something that has been eaten, touched or breathed in. When the offending substance (allergen) comes in contact with a particular area of sensitivity, the body releases histamine into the surrounding tissues. This results in swelling and the secretion of mucus.
The best protection against the development of allergy is to breast feed, because the most common allergen in early life is cows milk. That is why seven times more bottle fed babies than breast fed babies become allergic. Cows milk, even when modified into modern formulas, may contain up to 50 allergens and because the gut wall of an infant is permeable, undigested proteins can easily enter the bloodstream and cause an allergic reaction.
Breast milk also contains Immunoglobulin A (Ig A) which makes it more difficult for allergens to pass through the gut wall directly into the bloodstream.
If both parents and a previous child are allergic it is wise for the mother to exclude milk and dairy products from her diet during pregnancy and while she breast feeds, because allergens can cross the placenta and sensitise the foetus in the womb. They can also pass into breast milk and cause similar symptoms as those described for cows milk allergy (see below). Any supplementary bottles after delivery in the nursing home and later should be soya or other specifically non-allergenic milks. The mother should maintain her fluid intake even if she does not drink milk and substitute other sources of protein for dairy products. Goats-milk cheese (feta) may be eaten instead of the usual milk cheeses. Other possible allergens in the mothers diet that may affect the baby are wheat, eggs and cocoa products. If the mother is not drinking milk, she should take extra calcium tablets with vitamin C or plain calcium tablets. After birth her potentially allergic child should be kept away from the most common causes of allergic reaction. These include wool, wheat, eggs, orange juice, chocolate, animal dander (especially cat fur) and the house dust mite (found in house dust).
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