Preventing Allergies in Children

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Once parents can pinpoint what foods or substances cause their child’s allergies, prevention will be easier, although challenging, to manage.

Preventing Food Allergies

Cow’s milk protein is the key culprit in food allergies in children. Others include egg whites, wheat proteins, soy beans, shellfish, fish, peanuts, and tree nuts. Other common allergens include fruits, chocolate, and some food additives.

In infants, bottle fed babies are most vulnerable because cow’s milk is the basis of most commercial baby formulas. Breast fed babies are in a better position but are not necessarily protected, because certain foods that the mother eats can be carried into the baby’s system through her breast milk.

Before the age of three, a child’s immune system is underdeveloped and is not expected to tolerate most foreign substances, including food proteins. Doctors recommend that breastfeeding mothers should avoid eating certain allergenic foods as to avoid possible premature sensitization in the child.

Food allergies, like all other allergies, cannot be cured. Avoiding the offending foods is the only way to avoid allergic reactions. Because there are no drugs or allergy shots available to “cure” food allergies, elimination diets are prescribed. Parents should involve the child’s teachers and school administrators in helping manage the child’s allergies so that they too know what causes the allergies, how to prevent them, and what to do when the child’s allergies occur.

Managing Indoor Airborne Allergens

Dust mites. Most children are exposed to dust mites in their bedroom, and these dust mites are unavoidable because they are airborne, but there are ways to manage the allergens.

Use hypoallergenic covers for your baby’s mattress. Use blankets instead of fluffy comforters. Wash beddings weekly in hot water to kill dust mites. Wash stuffed toys in hot water weekly, or stick them in the freezer overnight to kill the dust mites, and avoid piling them up in baby’s bedroom. Vacuum weekly or every other week, but make sure your baby isn’t in the room when you do it. Think about investing in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filter, which traps microscopic particles that pass right through ordinary vacuum cleaners. Remove all forms of carpeting in the house and opt for smooth floors. Clean air filters, furnace, and air-conditioners as often as possible.

Pet dander. Taking your pet away for a vacation out of the house is not the way to manage pet dander in the house. The most effective solution to pet allergies is to give the animal away. However, see also if your child’s pet allergies will subside if you try to manage the dander.

Wash your pet frequently to keep down the dander. Use pet shampoos that are specifically made to reduce dander. Keep your pet off the furniture. If possible, train your pet to stay outside the house. Use ample ventilation. Remove all forms of carpeting or fabric covered furniture, and instead opt for leather or vinyl covers that can be cleaned easily. If all the above do not work, it is time to find your pet a new home.

Molds. Molds grow best in humid and damp areas in the house such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Molds grow in closets, refrigerator drip trays, air conditioners, washing machines, under-sink cabinets, garbage pails, mattresses, foam pillows, attics, carpets, and upholstery. But the amount of molds can be controlled.

For prevention, control the humidity and clean your air conditioners regularly.  Store your food properly. Use exhaust fans in your bathroom to reduce humidity. Wash shower curtains, scrub bathroom tiles and grout regularly.

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