Most allergies cannot be prevented because children are eventually exposed to allergic substances outside the home. But, controlling the exposure within the home environment can delay the onset of allergies and reduce the severity of symptoms. Allergies are often inherited. High-risk or allergy-prone children are those who have parents with asthma, eczema, severe hay fever or documented food allergies. Precautions to prevent allergies in these children are strongly encouraged.
If one of your children already has one of these allergic conditions, the following preventative measures become critical:
- First: If possible, breast-feed during the first year of life. The mother should avoid milk products, peanuts and eggs in her diet during this time. If the mother cannot breast-feed, there are 2 options: elemental formula (such as Nutramigen or Alimentum) or a soy protein formula.
- Second: The allergy-prone child should avoid all solid foods until 6 months old. During the entire first year of life, try to avoid milk products, eggs, peanut butter, soy protein, fish, wheat and citrus products. Until 2 years of age, try to avoid the most allergic foods (peanuts and fish).
- Third: Do not allow any furry pets in your home. All of them potentially cause allergies. Cats are the most allergenic animal. If you already own a pet, keep it outside. At a minimum, keep it out of your child's bedroom. Since feathers are very allergenic, avoid feather pillows and down comforters.
- Fourth: Do not allow any smoking in your home or car. Tobacco smoke causes nasal and lung symptoms, both as an allergy and an irritant.
- Fifth: Avoid excessive humidity in your home. Try to keep it below 35%. High humidity causes the growth of two potent allergens: mold and dust mites. Do not turn on a humidifier in the winter unless you notice static electricity in your home. Also, vent your clothes dryer outdoors.
If you have other questions about preventing allergies, consult your healthcare provider
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.