With more people being affected every year, at some point in our lives around one in four people in the UK will develop allergies. This is especially common in childhood, with around half of the children in this country now suffering from some type of allergic condition. With this steady rise in childhood allergies, is there anything parents can do to help nip allergies in the bud?
What causes allergies to develop?
Although the direct cause of allergies remains unclear, several theories and studies suggest that a family history of allergies, childhood diets, less exposure to germs, lack of exercise and antibiotic use may be to blame for the increase in allergies. Allergy sufferers’ immune systems recognise normally harmless substances as a threat, causing the body to overreact in response. One view is that this overreaction is caused by living in germ-free, clean environments.
Who is most at risk of developing allergies?
Studies have found that children with a family history of allergies are more likely to develop them. Research suggests that parents who are both allergy sufferers may have an increased chance of passing on their allergic tendencies to their children. People or families that have a tendency to develop allergies are called atopic. However, it is important to bear in mind that even children from non-atopic families can also suffer from allergies. Spotting symptoms early and finding treatment is key to helping allergy sufferers during childhood.
Can childhood allergies be prevented during pregnancy?
Research suggests that there is little that expectant mothers can do to lessen the chances of allergies developing in their children. Giving up smoking and eating a healthy diet during pregnancy and while breastfeeding will provide mother and baby with essential nutrients. Unless you are allergic to them yourself, there is no need to avoid eating peanuts. Previous government guidelines have now been changed following lack of evidence to suggest that this will increase allergic tendencies.
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