Allergies often run in families. And though, genes play a major role, it’s possible to reduce your child’s risk. In some cases, they can be prevented completely.
After all, allergies can be dangerous. Symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. It comes down to problems with immunity, so it’s crucial to build it up.1
To raise an allergy-free child, start early. A baby’s immune system is still changing and growing. With these five tips, you can shape her immunity and keep allergies at bay.
Breastmilk will strengthen your baby’s immune system. It contains colostrum – a nutrient-rich substance with natural antibiotics. Colostrum promotes normal growth and development while strengthening immunity. No wonder it’s called “liquid gold.”2
As you know, immunity depends on gut bacteria. In the baby’s first year of life, that bacteria fluctuates. It won’t become stable until she turns one-year-old.
Colostrum actually improves the baby’s gut bacteria. The mix of nutrients and antibiotics will do wonders! But since the gut change so much in the first year, breastfeeding is essential during this time.3
It’ll also fight against allergies. Specifically, if it’s done for the first 4 to 6 months, cow’s milk allergy will be prevented.4
2. Feed Common Allergens Early
When a baby starts eating solids, the specific foods matter. Start with less allergenic foods, like rice or spinach. Once that’s established, move on to common allergens as soon as possible.5
Delayed introduction of all solids can increase food allergy risk. However, this is especially true with allergenic foods like peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, and shellfish.6
3. Control Dust Mites
Dust mites are another common allergen. These microscopic insects cause rhinitis – a reaction marked by sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes.7
To decrease your child’s allergy risk, keep dust mites under control. Cover pillows and mattresses with zippered hypoallergenic covers. Every week, wash all bedding in hot water. You should also dust regularly.8
If possible, keep indoor humidity under 50 percent. This can be done with a dehumidifier or air conditioner.9
4. Introduce Animals Early
Research suggests that early exposure lowers the chances of animal allergies. In fact, children that grow up on farms have fewer allergies and asthma. Yet, this will be different for everyone, so talk to your doctor.10
To be safe, always keep an eye out for allergic reactions. This is even more vital if you have pets.
5. Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Regardless of age, a child should not be exposed to tobacco smoke. It has a strong link with rhinitis, wheezing, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.
If your child already has allergies, wheezing will become so much worse.11 So it’s important to avoid! Plus, her immune system is still growing, and cigarette smoke won’t help.
Remember, allergies are mainly controlled by genes. But by following these tips, you can reduce your child’s risk for allergies. It’ll help your little one live a happy and healthy life.
|↑1||Allergies: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Management. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.|
|↑2||Pletsch, Donna, Cindy Ulrich, Michelle Angelini, Gail Fernandes, and David SC Lee. “Mothers'” Liquid Gold”: A Quality Improvement Initiative to Support Early Colostrum Delivery via Oral Immune Therapy (OIT) to Premature and Critically Ill Newborns.” Nursing Leadership 26, no. Special Issue (2013).|
|↑3||Maynard, Craig L., Charles O. Elson, Robin D. Hatton, and Casey T. Weaver. “Reciprocal interactions of the intestinal microbiota and immune system.” Nature 489, no. 7415 (2012): 231-241.|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑8, ↑10||Prevention Of Allergies And Asthma In Children. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.|
|↑6||Fleischer, David M., Jonathan M. Spergel, Amal H. Assa’ad, and Jacqueline A. Pongracic. “Primary prevention of allergic disease through nutritional interventions.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice 1, no. 1 (2013): 29-36. Harvard|
|↑7||Rhinitis (Hay Fever). American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.|
|↑9||Dust Mites. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.|
|↑11||Schvartsman, Claudio, Sylvia Costa Lima Farhat, Samuel Schvartsman, and Paulo Hilario Nascimento Saldiva. “Parental smoking patterns and their association with wheezing in children.” Clinics 68, no. 7 (2013): 934-939.|