Although the genetic component of allergies is not absolute, scientific evidence suggests that it does play a role. Currently, researchers estimate that the odds of a child having allergies when one of their biological parents has allergies are about 50%.
Are Allergies Genetic?
If both biological parents have allergies, the chance increases to about 75%. As a result, parents who have experienced serious allergies should consult with their allergist and asthma doctor in New York City before introducing their child to potential allergens.
What Other Components Contribute to Childhood Allergies?
The biological parents’ allergies are one of the best predictors, but allergies are actually quite complex. Scientists continue to debate the importance of additional contributing factors. These may include your child’s environment, exposure to air pollution, diet, and the frequency of respiratory infections they experience early in life. Not all of these factors are within your control, but there may be steps you can take to limit the chances of your child developing serious allergies.
How to Prevent Serious Allergies
There is nothing you can do to totally eliminate the risk associated with allergies. However, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology does have some suggestions for reducing your child’s risk, especially while they are under the age of five.
Provide Access to Fresh Air
Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to or even should leave the place you call home. If you live in a busy city, near a highway, or any other location with moderate to poor air quality, then there are things you can do to protect your child without changing your living situation. First, purchase a HEPA air purifier for your home. Second, make sure your child spends at least a few hours a week outside in the fresh air. This may be a local park far from highways or a weekend day out in the country.
Breast Feed If You Can
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to breastfeed their child for as long as they would like. Some mothers cannot provide enough milk to keep their baby satiated. Some may work longer hours. Others may find that the process is just too painful for them or doesn’t work at all. You may even be a single dad or an adoptive parent. All of that is OKAY. However, if you are one of the lucky moms who can breastfeed for the first four to six months, then you should aim to do that. For parents who can’t, the AAAI suggests using a hydrolyzed infant formula rather than cow’s milk or a soy-based product.
Introduce Solid Foods One Ingredient at a Time
Food allergies can come as a surprise to parents, so it’s important to introduce solid foods one at a time. The AAAI suggests starting with foods less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Fruits, vegetables, and most grains usually work. Once your baby has tolerated those, you may start introducing higher-risk foods like tree nuts or shellfish. If you are at all concerned that your little one may have a food allergy due to someone else in your family having one, consult with your pediatrician first.
Use Protective Bedding to Limit Exposure to Dust Mites
Dust mites are a very common allergy, but research shows that restricting an infant’s exposure to these and other similar airborne substances may delay or prevent the development of a related allergy. Luckily, “allergen impermeable” bedding is widely available for your child’s pillow and mattress, giving them the early protection they deserve.
Introduce Pet Dander Gradually
When it comes to pets, the research is conflicting. The one thing scientists do agree on is that parents should be cautious introducing their pets to their baby. Ultimately, you should make sure that no pets have contact with your baby when you are not present, and your nursery should be a pet-free zone whenever possible. You can gradually introduce more contact as your child gets a little older and your pets are more used to Baby’s presence.
What to Do When Your Child has Allergies
Allergies are just another part of life for many families. If they’re new for you, talk to your doctor about prevention and safety. Once you have established a system that works for your family, consider discussing the possibility of your child receiving allergy drops in New York City. These drops contain targeted antigens that should help your child build-up their tolerance over time. They may never completely “cure” your child’s allergy, but they can make life much freer for them in the long run.