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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Allergy Steals Your Zest for Life

That headline's a great line, taken from Allergy Alert by the Malaysian Society of Allergy and Immunology (MSAI) in conjunction with the MSAI Congress 2007.

The article continues:

But sadly, allergy is still not accorded the attention and priority that it needs.

Why? Perhaps it is because allergy seldom kills or maims. Yes, life does go on for allergy sufferers, but unless you have an allergy yourself or live with someone who has it, you will never fully understand the impact of allergy on the quality of life. The physical suffering, the mental torment, the emotional struggles, the financial strain and the endless limitations in many aspects of life, ranging from food to sports or vacation to vocation.

In a nutshell, allergy rarely kills but often steals your zest for life.


atopic dermatitis


As 60% of all allergies appear during the first year of life, it is only logical for allergy prevention to be focused on infants and young children. In fact, it is estimated that 35% of children are affected by allergy.

The most common manifestations of allergy in children are food allergy, atopic dermatitis, asthma and allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis.

As if the misery of one form of allergy, say dermatitis, is not enough, allergies may come in a series called the “allergy march”. Leading this march is atopic dermatitis which is often accompanied by food allergy. A large proportion of children with atopic dermatitis then progress to rhinitis or asthma later in life. Thus, the development of allergic diseases can be life-long.

Up till now, there is still no cure for allergy and prevention remains the only way to stop the allergy march. But before we can put the brakes on allergy, we must know what drives it.

Genetic link

Allergic diseases run in families. If you and your spouse both suffer from allergies, your children will have a 40-60% risk of developing allergies. If only one of you is allergic, then the risk falls to 20-40%.

However, even if both parents are allergy-free, the offspring will still run a 5-15% risk. So, allergy prevention is justified for all infants.


Allergy prevention is not easy, however. The best preventive is to breastfeed your baby for at least the first six months of life. Stay away from highly allergenic foods until the baby is at least a year old. Dairy allergies would make this tricky, since cow's milk formulas and dairy products are normally started much earlier. Still, there are numerous alternative products available today.

Remember, this applies to allergies, not lactose intolerance. Babies do not become lactose intolerant except temporarily if they have an intestinal upset. See Babies Aren't Lactose Intolerant

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