The Allergic March

by TwinToddlersDad on May 16, 2011

in Food Allergy

Source: The LEAP study

Did you know that nearly 30% of children in the United States have some form of allergy and that the rate of allergic disease in children is on the rise?

I found this fact quite interesting – and troubling – as I read this article about childhood allergies. What is even more interesting is that the progression of allergic disease in children appears to follow a predictable pattern called the Allergic March.

It goes like this – first it starts with dermatitis (eczema), then to chronic gastrointestinal (GI) issues, then to chronic serous otitis media (ear infections), then to chronic rhinitis (stuffy nose) and finally to asthma.

The problem is that allergic disease doesn’t have a cure, and that is why, prevention is the only smart choice. It helps to know that the pattern of allergic disease is predictable, which is why, early signs of allergic symptoms like eczema and food allergy or sensitivity should be considered seriously.

Most babies in their first 1-2 years of life show sings of food sensitivity to certain foods such as egg, dairy, soy, rice and wheat. This is because their young immune systems are yet to mature and sometimes they get confused by different proteins in these foods. Good news is that, most children do grow out of these early issues by the time they reach age 5.

The news is not so good if there is a family history of allergy, which is why getting to know the allergic march is quite important. If either mom or dad – or both – have a history of allergy, the chances of their child developing an allergy can be as high as 50 -80%. If not diagnosed and prevented early, the allergic march is likely inevitable.

We have been interested in food allergy here on Littlestomaks, because it affects so many babies and toddlers. Although there is no reason to hit the panic button over a few episodes of vomiting and reflux, it is prudent to take them seriously when allergy runs in the family. Same goes for ear infections, which again are quite common in children. A link between milk allergy and ear infections, for example, is being reported in many cases. Talk to your doctor about the history of allergy in your family on a routine visit to treat an ear infection. For all you know, it might be the first step on the allergic march, which you can avoid with early intervention.

Here are a few nice links for more information:

The LEAP study
The Allergy March
Food Allergies on About.com
Pediatric food allergies on Today’s Dietitian

Do you have a child with food allergies? Share your story, we would love to hear from you!

©2011 Littlestomaks.com

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  • Jenna Food with Kid Appeal

    this one is close to my heart.  looks my kids are marching ahead of the beat.  both boys had very mild eczema in infancy.  so mild that i didn’t believe finding the food culprit was worth the detective skills.  now my oldest is 7, diagnosed with asthma and allergies at 3yo.  been on daily meds since then. at six we narrowly missed a collapsed lung.   my youngest is 5, and just got his allergy/asthma life sentence.   the little one is also a life long “crouper.”   every 4-8 weeks since infancy he gets the croup.   i was told most kids grow out of it by preschool years, and by 4 for sure.  he’s 5 now.  it’s worse.  he narrowly missed a hospitiliaztion this spring due to an allergy (pollen suspected) induced ashtma attack. 

    please please please.  if you are still in the stage when you are introducing babies to food and they are getting mild to severe eczema, pay attention.  the skin is the largest organ, and one of the body’s best way of detoxing.  a rash like eczema is the skins way of getting rid of something the immune system can’t handle, most likely one of the foods introduced.    you could ignore this warning sign if you want and roll the dice.  perhaps your child will just “grow out of it” like the dr. and studies say.  my experience was different.  as my kids get older, despite their very very clean diet and very active lifestyle, their immune system gets sicker and sicker.  they react to more and more things, and the reactions are more and more severe. 

    be a good parent detective.  figure out which foods cause and issue, even a mild issue like occasional reflux or eczema and stop giving them to your child.  learn about beneficial gut flora.  learn about leaky gut syndrome.  there IS a cure to ashtma and allergies.  it lies in your child’s GI tract and ensuring your child’s gut has the beneficial flora it needs to digest food properly.  when digestion is working well, food is not considered an invader and an immune response is not launched by your child’s body.

    your child will only grow out of allergies if you help establish good gut flora in their GI tract and get their digestive system working properly.  the quicker you catch the gi distress, the sooner you can heal the gut, and the less symptoms your child will have to live with.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your experience Jenna. I think your advice is right on the mark. It helps to be vigilant and ask the right questions to the doctor. Parents are often rushed, even on a well visit, and there is hardly any time given to such concerns.
    Sorry to hear about your boys. Good luck.

  • Shelly

    THANK YOU for posting this article.  My first born struggled with eczema which eventually led to food sensitivities and now true food allergies.  It was SO difficult to get any doctors to really believe there was something deeper going on.  The chart you posted is very interesting and makes a lot of sense.  We worked with our Boston gastroenterologist and finally switched to an allergist who was willing to test him.  We eliminated all foods and after 3 yrs we retested and doesn’t have those specific allergies anymore.

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