Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Allergy Alert 2

Allergic diseases that affect children include food allergy, eczema, allergic rhinitis and asthma. The symptoms of these allergic diseases usually affect the 3 main parts of the body like skin, respiratory system and digestive system. General symptoms include sleep disturbance, fatigue and irritability. 

This is how you can determine that your child is allergic. You can check out the 1st Allergy Alert Blog also to understand the basic allergy alert at http://jacyntacsy.blogspot.com/2014/06/allergy-alert.html
Skin - Eczema, hives, itchiness
Respiratory system - Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, sneezing
Digestive system - Colic, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain

One possibility for the increase in allergy is explained by the hygiene Hypothesis. This hypothesis state that a child growing up in an overly clean environment will not get exposed to microorganisms that can stimulate his immune system to develop in a balanced manner. As a result, his immune system is at times unable to distinguish between harmful and harmless substances, thus resulting in allergies.

Increased awareness of allergic diseases and their symptoms on the part of doctors, parents and the general public, may also be a reason for the increasing statistics on allergy, because more and more cases of allergy are now correctly diagnosed and reported.

1. Probiotics help to reduce risk of allergy
Besides being our biggest immune organ, our intestine is also home to trillions of bacteria, both good and harmful. The good bacteria help to train and mature the intestinal immune system. Young Children with allergy have less of good bacteria called Bifidobacteria in their intestine, compared to non-allergic children. Bifidobacteria help to increase the production of the antibody - lgA, which plays an important role in immunity.

Studies have also shown that probiotics(good bacteria with clinically proven benefits) are helpful for allergy by Reduce the risk of develop eczema in infants during the early years of life. Reduce the symptoms and severity of eczema in young children and Play a positive role in the treatment of food allergy by reducing hypersensitivity reactions and inflammation of the intestines.

2. Caesarian babies have less Bifidobacteria in their intestine
A baby born by Caesarean delivery does not go through his mother’s birth canal and hence, he does not pick up good bacteria from his mother’s vaginal and faecal flora. Therefore, a Caesarean baby takes a longer time (up to 6 months) to build up his population of good bacteria like Bifidobacteria in his intestine, compared to a vaginally delivered baby.

Caesarean babies & allergic diseases
Various studies reported a link between Caesarean babies and allergic diseases. For example; A Swedish study found an increased risk of developing asthma symptoms in children over a year old who were born by Caesarean section. Another study showed that Caesarean delivery results in abnormal immune responses, which are associated with an increased risk for allergy and/or asthma in childhood. 

Researchers have found that children born by Caesarean section had a 20% increase in the risk of developing asthma. It has also been discovered that there is a positive link between Caesarean babies and asthma. The above effects may be influenced by the delay in building up the intestinal microflora in Caesarean babies.

How to reduce allergy risk in young children? 
1. Breastfeeding
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. It has been shown that children who were breastfed for 4 to 6 months had a lower incidence of allergy. Breast milk contains immune cells and protective antibodies, which protect the child while his own immune system is still developing.

Breast milk supports the growth of probiotic bacteria. As for mother’s dietary restrictions, there is currently no evidence that what a pregnant or lactating woman eats can influence the development of allergy in her child ( AAP 2008, ESPGHAN 2008). Hence, a pregnant or lactating woman should eat a balanced and varied diet that fulfills both her own and her baby’s needs for energy and nutrients, without avoiding any specific foods.

2. Hydrolysed Protein-Based Formula (or Partially Hydrolysed Protein-Based Formula)
Ordinary cow’s milk contains many types of proteins that can trigger allergy. If a mother cannot breastfeed for medical reasons, she may want to feed her child with a hydrolysed protein-based formula that has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of allergy. It is important to choose one that is scientifically proven because not all hydrolysed protein-based formulas are the same in effectiveness. So, check with a doctor who will recommend a scientifically proven one, in which the proteins have been modified to reduce their allergic potential.

3. Probiotics
Earlier on, we have seen how probiotics can help reduce the risk of allergy. Breast milk contains probiatic bacteria such as Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Certain hydrolysed protein-based formulas also have probiotic bacteria added. Older children may add yoghurt, cereals and yoghurt drinks containing probiotics to their diet.

4. Stop smoking
Pregnant women should stop smoking completely because smoking increases the risk of wheezing in infancy and affects foetal lung function. Tobacco smoke from the environment will also cause wheezing in infants and aggravate asthma.

5. Reducing dust and animal dander
Young children confirmed sensitive to house dust mites and furry pets should reduce exposure to them. Wash bedding regularly with hot water (60 degree) to kill dust mites. Keep pets out of the child’s bedroom and vacuum carpets and floors to rid them of animal dander.

6. Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy is a form of treatment done by an allergist. An allergic child is given gradually increasing quantities of a substance to which he is allergic(allergen), with the intention of lessening the allergic symptoms caused by future exposures to that allergen. This builds tolerance towards that allergen. It may also prevent the progression of the allergic disease, thus improving the quality of life. 

To help your child enjoy a healthy and happy life, take active steps today to reduce his risk of allergy. Together, let’s stop this “ silent Epidemic” from spreading fast. Prevention is always better than cure. I've seen my friend kept sending her son to hospital for emergency from time to time, it's really a huge sacrifice there. Money issue aside, but it's the torment seeing your children suffering in pain that's upsetting you day and night, losing the peace of mind in living normal life. Let's bust this allergy together!

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