When your baby comes into direct contact with certain products or allergens such as food, drugs, insects and pollen, he might exhibit certain symptoms such as runny nose, coughing or sneezing, skin rashes and itchy eyes.
An allergy is a special immune reaction to a substance in the environment and is common among babies and smaller children. Allergens are grouped into three different categories -- they are either caused by foods, inhalants or something in the environment.
Some children inherit allergic tendencies from their parents or other relatives. In cases where both biological parents have allergies, the chances of the child also developing allergies are even greater, although the child may not necessarily become allergic to the same thing as the parents.
It could take several months for allergic reactions to develop in your child and so you might not know if he is allergic to something right away. When your child's exposure to a particular allergen such as peanuts or dust becomes too much and surpasses his/her tolerance level, then his/her body will start to react to fight off these offensive substances.
How to spot a potential allergic reaction:
1. Sudden rashes on the skin and bottom which are usually similar to mosquito bites in appearance.
2. Breathing or other respiratory problems after being in an area for a long period of time or after consuming certain foods.
3. Swelling of the lips/tongue or face.
4. Runny nose and weepy eyes.
5. Loose stools or diarrhoea.
6. The child may cough as he develops a sinus infection due to the allergies and his throat becomes inflamed from drainage problems during nap time.
Most likely causes of food allergies in toddlers
1. Dairy products, gluten (protein found in wheat), shellfish, peanuts, soy, corn, citrus fruits, mustard, yeast, egg whites, chocolate and cinnamon.
2. Animal furs and dust mites.
3. Laundry soaps, paints and solvents, smoke.
Food allergies tend to be most feared allergies. Severe cases may cause anaphylactic shock or even death from eating, say, a peanut. But many food allergies are milder and sometimes children outgrow them. Skin conditions like eczema, too, can be mild and temporary.
One of the more popular theories for allergies is the hygiene hypothesis which says that exposure to germs and parasites in early childhood somehow prevents the body from developing certain allergies.
The hypothesis argues that there is a downside to a culture of disinfection and overuse of antibiotics.
A recent US Centres for Disease Control report found:
*Food and respiratory allergies are more common in higher-income families than the poor.
* Eczema and skin allergies are most common among the poor. More black children have the skin problems: 17 per cent, compared to 12 per cent of white children and about 10 per cent of Hispanic children.