Childhood Allergies

Childhood Allergies

Like many medical problems related to the immune system,allergies can manifest starting at a very young age. There is a phenomenon called “the allergic march” which describes the progression of allergic disease from infancy to young adulthood.

The Allergic March

The allergic march begins in infancy with atopic dermatitis or eczema , an itchy crusting red rash usually found on the face, neck, elbow creases, and behind the knees. While the exact cause and mechanisms of atopic dermatitis are still unclear, it is known that food allergy to common foods like milk, egg, soy, peanut, fish, or wheat, among others can trigger or aggravate the rash in up to 30% of children. In older children and adults, airborne allergens like dust mites and pollen can also aggravate eczema. Other triggers include infections, emotional stress, and irritants that rub against the skin. Up to three fourths of children with atopic dermatitis whose parents also have allergic problems go on to develop allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. Treatment consists of avoidance of food and other allergy triggers, moisturizers, and corticosteroid creams.

By age 3, the child’s immune system has matured sufficiently to begin reacting to airborne allergens. He or she may start sneezing, having itchy eyes, runny nose, and nasal congestion during the seasons or year-round, which are the typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis. With continued allergen exposure and no treatment, as he or she reaches late childhood, the child can then develop cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath, which are typical symptoms of asthma. Untreated allergic rhinitis and asthma can lead to more severe complications in later life such as chronic sinusitis and lung disease. Early diagnosis, avoidance of allergens, and treatment with antihistamines, corticosteroids, will control symptoms and decrease severity. Studies have shown that allergen immunotherapy in children reduces symptoms and prevent development of asthma.

Link: Preventing Childhood Allergies

The content of this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace evaluation by a physician. If you have questions or medical concerns, please contact your doctor.

6 thoughts on “Childhood Allergies

  1. This is interesting. My child’s allergic march started with extremely severe colic-like symptoms at just a few days old, progressed to diarrhea, ear/mouth/eye itching and upper respiratory symptoms, then moved into rashes and swelling. Recently she is getting much more frequent and severe symptoms to smaller and harder-to-pinpoint exposures.

    She was already reacting to airborne allergens (mold, in particular) by age 11 months. I wonder what that means for her future?


  2. Has she seen a fellowship trained, board certified allergist? It is extremely rare for a child to develop multiple allergies. Diarrhea, ear/ mouth/ eye itching may have causes other than allergies particularly in an infant. It is also very rare for a child to have mold allergies at 11 months, they usually develop rhinitis- conjunctivitis at 3 years. The earliest I’ve seen is 2 years old during a really bad tree pollen season. As I’ve said, you need a trained Allergy specialist to sort this all out.


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