Why do the smallest babies have allergies? What are the most dangerous allergens? How to find the right nutrition and skin care? Denis Vladimirovich Zaslavsky, professor and chief specialist in dermatovenerology and cosmetology of the Ministry of Health of Russia in the North-West Federal District of the Russian Federation.
Denis Vladimirovich Zaslavsky
Professor and chief specialist in dermatovenerology and cosmetology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation in the North-West Federal District of the Russian Federation
Allergy and genetics
The existence of a genetic predisposition to allergies is fully scientifically proven. And if two parents have some form of allergy, then 80% of their child will also be diagnosed with it. The allergens do not have to be the same; their spectrum may even be wider. This allergy is called "polyvalent", which means that the body is hypersensitive to several types of allergens at once.
Food allergies in children under 2 years of age
There are several types of allergies, but food allergies usually manifest themselves first. It can occur in a baby during breastfeeding or at the beginning of the first feeding. Allergens can easily enter the body through breast milk. For example, if a woman ate an orange, she may not have any allergic reactions, and her baby may develop a rash on her skin. That is why it is so important for nursing mothers to follow a diet (you can find a list of 10 foods that are prohibited for mothers during breastfeeding here). After all, the child's first allergic reaction to any product can later develop into a permanent allergy.
The second dangerous "allergic" line is the period of the first feeding; it is usually introduced when the child is 5-6 months old. During this time, foods with a high allergic risk can trigger increased sensitivity in the body.
Tolerance to food products in a child is formed by 1 year, a maximum of 2 years. The child's body gradually adapts to nutrition, and the risk of food allergies decreases with age.
The most dangerous food allergens
Fish (especially red), shellfish and all seafood, eggs, chicken, citrus fruits, cow's milk, nuts (especially peanuts), any kind of honey. These are foods with a high allergic risk, and I advise avoiding them whenever possible during breastfeeding and first feeding. This is especially true when one of the parents has an allergy and the child is at increased risk of developing it.
The same milk porridge, which is indispensable in the children's menu, can be prepared on the basis of goat's milk, not cow's milk. An interesting fact: in France 100 years ago there were even special dairy stations where children with allergies were fed with fresh goat's milk. This tradition has not survived, but the fact that goat milk is hypoallergenic is recognized by nutritionists all over the world.
Another common allergen that not everyone knows about is chicken meat. The danger is not even in the chicken itself, but in the technologies of intensive livestock raising. Chickens are raised in poultry farms, fed with growth hormones so that they grow faster, and antibiotics so that they do not get sick. An allergic reaction in children most often occurs precisely to chemicals that are used in animal husbandry.
Probiotics as Prevention of Food Allergies
The risk of developing food allergies in a child is significantly reduced if the expectant mother takes probiotics in the last trimester of pregnancy, as well as for 3-6 months during breastfeeding. In some cases, probiotics can also be given to babies who have stool instability, regurgitation, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Allergy to odors, pollen, animal hair
The first respiratory allergy to odors appears in children much later than the food allergy, about 2-3 years. The most common allergens are common house dust, animal hair (especially cats), pollen from various trees, plants, flowers. Aeroallergies are more dangerous for a child than food allergies, because the reactions are stronger and develop rapidly. There is no adaptation to such allergens, the allergy persists throughout the child's life.
A separate topic is animal allergy. One of the strongest allergens is the proteins found in cat saliva and excrement, hair. Therefore, if a child is prone to allergies, cats should definitely not be in the house. Even bald ones, because they lick themselves in the same way as their furry counterparts.
But with dogs, not everything is so simple. It is believed that if a dog lives in a house, then the products of its vital activity prepare the child's immunity to meet the same pathogens in the outside world. But allergies to dogs are much less common than to cats. In addition, insect bites (bees, ticks, ants, etc.) are often the cause of allergic reactions.
By the way, one of the misconceptions is to believe that an allergy to odors can only manifest itself with hay fever. When the allergen builds up in the body, skin rashes can also appear.
Skin hydration, atopic dermatitis and allergies
Proper care of the baby's skin is necessary from the first days of its appearance and is an effective method of preventing allergic reactions. Mom needs to understand as early as possible what type of skin the child has: normal, dry, sensitive or prone to atopic irritation. It is a huge misconception that all children's products are the same. Each skin type should have its own line of care. For example, the products of the well-known children's brand MUSTELA are quite different in composition. And this is no coincidence, because those ingredients that meet the needs of, say, normal skin type well may not be sufficient for atopic-prone skin that needs more lipids. Conversely, for normal skin, excess lipid-replenishing ingredients may be unnecessary. Therefore, when choosing cosmetics for a child,it is necessary first of all to look so that the label says that it can be used from birth, and choose funds in accordance with the type of skin. We wrote more about the composition of hypoallergenic cosmetics here.
Every mother believes that her child's skin is the softest and velvety. And this, of course, is true, but in newborn children, the skin is prone to dryness. And if she does not get enough moisture, the child may develop atopic irritations, which can lead to allergies in the future.
How does it work in practice? Dry skin is often accompanied by itching, and when a child begins to scratch himself, a variety of allergens enter the body through the scratching - from staphylococcus bacteria to ordinary dust particles. If you choose the right moisturizers from the first days, the risk of dryness, flaking and irritation will decrease to zero.
Finally, I would like to give some practical advice to young mothers. Firstly, if your baby has any rashes or peeling on the skin, you do not need to diagnose yourself "allergy" on your own, only a dermatologist can do this. Only a professional can distinguish between atopic skin irritation and allergies and other skin conditions. Secondly, if, nevertheless, your child was diagnosed with an allergy, most often it is "polyvalent" - that is, to several allergens at once. It is not necessary to determine them empirically, it is better to pass special medical tests as soon as possible. And thirdly, today in medicine there is only one effective means of dealing with allergies - this is the complete absence of contact with allergens.
To find out what type of skin your baby has, take the test on the link.
Text: Veronica Shur
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