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Allergic Reactions in Babies

By: Sharon Edge - Updated: 19 Mar 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Allergies And Babies allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction can be a worrying thing at the best of times but if you think your baby might have an allergy, you’ll need to know exactly what to do.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is an immune system response. When a particular substance – known as an allergen - is inhaled, injected, eaten or touched, the immune system releases histamines and other chemicals that result in a cascade of symptoms such as an itchy, blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, rashes or diarrhoea, amongst other things.

When to Call for Medical Help

If your baby is having trouble breathing, is panting, pale or cold, seems disoriented or has a rapid pulse, call your GP or the emergency services immediately.

Allergic Parents and their Babies

It’s true that allergies often seem to run in families. But although the tendency to be allergic is often inherited, the things family members are allergic to can vary widely. You might get hay fever and your partner might be allergic to bee stings, but your child might not suffer with either of these things, although they could well have a dairy allergy. Equally, if you have more than one child, they might all have different allergies – or none at all, of course.

Breastfeeding your baby until he or she is six months old helps to reduce the likelihood of allergies in the early years. But if you are breastfeeding, avoid eating any foods that are likely allergens, such as nuts, dairy products or shellfish.

How to tell if your Baby has an Allergy

Eczema and hay fever can usually be easily diagnosed. But babies can develop allergies to almost anything, from dogs to dust and dairy products, and it can be difficult pin down the exact nature of the allergen. Never attempt to do this yourself, but be sure to talk to your doctor, who will refer you to a specialist if your baby’s symptoms are severe.

Sometimes babies wheeze when they get a cold, but this isn't a sign of allergy, and most babies grow out of it. As your child reaches the age of about three, and if he or she is wheezing even when otherwise healthy, talk to your GP about it. You should also check with your doctor if new symptoms develop or if symptoms get worse.

Allergy Testing for Babies

Your medical team might recommend that you keep a diary of your child’s symptoms as a first step towards tracking down the allergen. The doctor might recommend carrying out a skin pinprick test to determine the cause of your baby’s allergy. These are especially good for detecting the cause of allergic contact eczema, but can be unreliable in babies less than a year and a half old.

Treating Allergic Reactions in Babies

When it comes to medication, antihistamines and steroids can sometimes be appropriate, and your doctor will advise you if this is the right course for you baby. But the simplest and best way prevent the symptoms of allergy is to avoid contact with the allergen.

If your baby is allergic to pollen, keep doors and windows closed when the pollen count is high and avoid going outside if you can. Bathe your baby frequently, especially after coming in from outdoors.

Keep your baby's room as dust-free as possible. It’s not dust that’s the allergen, but dust mite droppings. So washing bedding and curtains frequently, investing in a high quality vacuum cleaner, and popping comfort blankets and soft toys in the freezer now and then can help. Of course, it’s impossible to live in a permanently dust-free house, but opening the windows frequently, replacing carpets with wooden floors, and switching curtains for blinds can all make life less comfortable for the dust mite.

Food Allergies and Babies

The symptoms of a true food allergy are particularly unpleasant. They include a rash, wheezing and swelling of the lips and tongue. These symptoms will usually appear within an hour of eating, or sometimes just touching, the allergen.

If you think your baby may be allergic to a certain food, talk to your doctor, who might refer you to a specialist, or run some tests. Don’t forget, if you are in any doubt about the severity of an allergic reaction, or if your baby is having any difficulty breathing, or has a rapid pulse, call for medical help without delay.

Babies can also have food intolerances. These are different from a true allergy. Symptoms of food intolerance often affect the digestive system and can include tummy pain, bloating, excess wind and diarrhoea. If you think your baby might have a food intolerance, your doctor could refer you to a dietician, who might suggest putting your child on an exclusion diet. This means that suspect foods are removed completely from the diet before being reintroduced one at a time. This helps to pinpoint exactly which foods are causing the problem.

If your baby is fed on formula milk and develops an intolerance or an allergy to dairy products, your doctor might advise switching to a Soya-based formula. Never radically change your baby’s diet in this way without talking it through with your medical team.

Be Allergy Aware

When it comes to allergies and babies, the best advice is to be vigilant, but not paranoid. As a responsible parent, you should be aware of exactly what your little one is eating and when, so patterns of adverse reactions should be obvious quite quickly. But never try to diagnose or treat an allergy yourself. Always seek expert medical advice when dealing with babies and allergies.

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[Add a Comment]
My son had a allergic reaction to Nurofen Ibruperfen, he is severely ill almost fatal. I would like other people to be aware of SJS -Steven Johnson Syndrome and a more aggressive strain called TEN"s- Toxic Epidrmal Necrolysis, the company will not take liability for the damage and harm that is does to your body. If you could see the damage and effect it had on my child you would never purchase the drug in the first place - when you go to the chemist ask questions even if they sound silly please to prevent anyone going through this suffering unnecessarily
Dee - 19-Mar-14 @ 6:42 AM
Just started weaning my 6 month old and she is reacting to a number of foods. Reactions are usually red blotches around her mouth and a number of the blotches have hives. So far she has reacted to strawberry yoghurt, creamy porridge and dairy milk. Weaning is now very stressful as she s reluctant to eat much and prefers to still have breat milk. Health visitor has told me nt to worry and doesn't seem to be worried about it. Is it with a dr visit? Will she be referred and possibly tested? Any advice gratefully appreciated.x
Booboo - 27-Aug-12 @ 5:36 PM
Ang - if no one has suggested it to you yet. Speak to your health visitor, ours are fantastic and are such a help when it comes to doctors. I've had nothing but problems with my docs not taking me seriously. Under 3months my son had colic (doctors diagnosis without even looking at him!), over 3months it was teething. We had to get our health visitor to speak with the doctor to get the proper diagnose of reflux when he was young which was due to his milk allergy (I was unable to have diary whilst breast feeding) - the docs flat out refused to prescribe nutramigen until his allergy was confirmed with a specialist (which was a 6month waiting list!) until our health visitor waved her magic wand and we got the prescription. They are the unsung heros for all parents who battle with their doctors who, I believe from my experience, are reluctant to get involved with babies and young children. My poor little boy is allergic to milk, soya and eggs (confirmed with testing) and suspected allergies banana, sesame seed, fish (so far!) with our latest experience of giving him a cherry tomato yesterday and he had several symptoms of an anaphylactic shock. He only licked it! Thankfully he didn't eat it! Call your health visitor, they are there to help and from my experience they really do K
Khaki - 14-May-12 @ 8:26 PM
Ang-Hi we have also had the same problem as you with my baby we tried everything with the doctors to try and get them to help us but they were having none of it. We eventually got sent into hospital and this is where it all started! 9 months down the line we found out our baby is allergic to milk which brings out his exzema and it is not cradle cap ur baby has its the exzcema it went really nasty and started to s ell like wet dogs we had to have antibiotics. Our baby is no allergic to dogs and nuts we have found out recently. He is now one and we live our lives worrying what he's going to be allergic to next it's horrible. He has a milk free diet which consists of meat potatoes and veg everyday and fruit for pudding. Since doing this our little boy is happy and thriving do there is light at the very long tunnel which is not over yet!!
Manni - 9-May-12 @ 4:45 PM
My son is only 3 months old. He has swallon lymph nodes, 5 of them behind ears and the lower part of his head. He has a rash that the docs keep saying is a yeast/fungal infection in his penis area and upper groin area and lower belly that does not go away with perscribed medication. He has excema, and has had a severe case of cradle cap. He was extremely colicy the first month and we changed his formula. He is also teething.Im concerned that it may be an allergic reaction to something, but the docs keep blowing me off that he is fine. Maybe im just over reacting but He is so much more fussy then my girls ever were, and I dont know what to do next.
Ang - 27-Mar-12 @ 5:28 PM
Thanks for this. We recently introduced our baby to porridge blend of sorghum, beans n nuts n she has reacted to it badly. We have since stopped feeding her the porridge. How then do we handle this allergy that has resulted in swelling of the baby's hands? She itched n cried thru the night butshe slept abit. Now she is awake n playing but hands still itchy.
koko - 16-Mar-12 @ 7:06 AM
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