Today I want to touch down my thoughts about a serious matter than can haunt new parents badly- ‘Allergy’. You pay a visit to the paediatrician and there is no surprise to see rush of small children with problems related to incessant sneezing, wheezing, breathlessness, rash, runny nose, sinus pain, vomiting, and itchy eyes, ears, lips, throat and mouth. And as parents, today we can’t live in an ignorant world; we need to be aware. At the time of birth, baby’s immune system is not fully developed, so risks against allergies remains always high.
The old rule, “I never had any allergy or have any family history so my child is not prone to it” is actually contradictory.
Let’s take a look at the current stats:
- Baby allergies are actually much more prevalent today than they were 100, or even 30 years ago.
- There is no data for India but like in 1986 there were 10% allergic rhinitis and 1% asthma cases whereas today the figure has rose to 20-30% allergic rhinitis and 15% asthma.
- In Europe every third newborn is considered to have a high risk of developing allergies.
- US data shows that food allergies in children rose by 50% between 1997 and 2011.
- And even if there is no history of family allergy, a newborn has 15% risk of having allergies; with a family history this risk increases upto 80%.
Most of the time we don’t know why our child is suffering and thus we assume the occurrences, miss them from being recognized only to realize it later when the problem becomes really big to handle.
You may think that why am I discussing all of this, well when I became mother for the first time; I was completely naive. Till the 9 months of my pregnancy I had no clue what childcare is all about. And later I was stunned to see my little baby developing baby acnes, runny noses and other new born related issues as the days progressed. We had no prior knowledge, there were random searches, guesses and then scrutiny by her Paediatrician, but as now I’m preparing myself for the Baby No.2; it’s also about making me more aware!
I’m not a doctor so I can’t talk scientifically but I do can pass my own experiences while dealing with the fear of allergies, so sharing few of them:
- No kissing the baby.
- No touching the baby without cleaning the hands and sanitizer.
- Only cotton clothes and new clothes to be cleaned thoroughly before use..
- Exposing baby to early morning sunlight and then stroller walk at any time of the day.
- Regular paediatric check-ups.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding till 26 months.
Yes, ‘exclusive breastfeeding’ because no matter what we debate but breastfeeding has always been a golden formula to
- Slowly develop body immune system
- Reduce allergic incidences
- Sufficient supply and adequate quality of proteins for newborns
Also in our country cow milk allergies are one of the common types of allergies in infants and young children and starts when the baby is first exposed to cow’s milk. Yet it is the most ignored by parents.
I know many Moms who have fed their child with cow’s milk in absence of breast milk and often they failed to understand why the child is getting cranky or has turned allergic. I have also noticed cow’s milk being fed to babies mixed half with water. Please note cow’s milk is not harmful but it’s not meant for the little tummies. Why??
Because allergy is an abnormal response to an ordinarily harmless substance in one’s body. So, when the baby consumes cow’s milk, the proteins present in cow’s milk, which are normally harmless, are considered as a threat to the human body due to their complex structure.
To conclude, allergies although common, can be largely prevented and every effort should be made in order to prevent them. I advocate WHO recommendations and my own experiences that continued breastfeeding is the key and should be continued as long as you can. Also doctor’s advice should always be taken when breast milk is not available, don’t hesitate to speak up.