Allergies in children can be upsetting to both the child as well as parents. No parent wants to see their infant suffer from harsh allergic conditions. That is why we are here with expert advice on how to prevent these allergies from occurring.
Dr. Chiang Wen Chin is a Pediatric allergy expert at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre. She has also been practicing Pediatrics for more than a decade. Her sub-specialties include the management of children with food allergies and drug allergies including eczema, rhinitis and asthma.
Question from a concerned parent: I know that allergies are common and many of them can be dangerous to children. There are ways to prevent certain allergies from occurring; but can allergies ever be cured completely?
According to Dr. Chiang, allergies are quite common amongst young children. Eczema, asthma and rhinitis are the ones that are most common. These are found in almost 20% to 40% of children under the age of two. Whilst food allergies are not so common, they seem to have a close relationship with the presence of moderate to severe eczema in young children.
Thus, in terms of dietary prevention, it is highly recommended that you breast-feed your child exclusively from birth for the first 6 months and continue for as long as possible. Breast milk provides the best nutrition and protection against any allergy. If supplementation is needed after 6 months, use of hypoallergenic follow-on formula (known as HA follow-on formula) can be considered, especially for babies with a family history of allergies. It is important to pay attention when weaning comes along. Gradually introduce semi-solid food after 6 months, one food at a time. Even the most common food may be allergens, such as eggs and milk. If this happens, we can use some investigations such as food specific skin prick test or IgE ImmunoCAP levels to determine if the food allergy is confirmed. Many children will be able to tolerate the food with time.
Eczema, asthma and rhinitis often have a “natural history”. Eczema in most cases, improves with age and with proper management. Asthma tends to be present and may stabilize in the first decade. Rhinitis on the other hand tends to peak in severity when the child is in the second decade of his life. We aim to manage the allergies better with medications available so that the children’s quality of life improves.
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