Allergy basics

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Allergies are an abnormal reaction by the immune system to something the baby encounters, be it a new food or an airborne allergy. Most allergic reactions are annoying rather than dangerous, but some can be life-threatening, if your baby or toddler struggles to breathe.

Food allergies

True food allergies aren’t very common, but if there are allergies in the close family, it pays to be careful. Avoid introducing known allergens such as egg, nuts and soya until your baby is over a year old. Wean your baby onto solid foods one at a time so that you can be aware if a specific food causes a reaction.

What causes an allergy?

·Allergies are directly linked to the body’s immune system.

·Your baby’s immune system’s is designed to protect the body against harmful or foreign substances which enters the body or are in contact with the body.

·In some cases children (and adults) may be hypersensitive to a harmless substance (allergen) and treats the harmless substance as a harmful substance. This triggers a reaction such as sneezing and mucous production, a rash, breathing difficulties or swelling.

·Allergens can be house dust, dog or cat fur, food, shampoo, dust mites, or just about anything your baby may come into contact with.

How it is treated

Treatment of an allergy usually starts with trying to identify the culprit. You will then make every effort to keep the allergen out of your baby’s environment. Babies and toddlers are usually not given antihistamines unless the doctor has clearly identified allergy as the cause of her symptoms and there is a very good case for treatment. Depending on how bad the allergy is, the doctor may recommend that you carry injectable adrenaline.

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