Asthma Chest & Allergy Centre

A centre of excellence providing treatment of Asthma, Allergies and Chest Diseases since 1992

Allergic March

In the life of a child there are some “Kodak moments”. You may also call them  “Ahaa” moments – when the child gives the first smile to the mother, when the   child takes the first tentative step, when the child starts to walk or when she for the   first time says “mama”. These are great landmarks in the life of a child !!

In the life of an allergic child, apart from these normal “Ahaa” moments, there are  some “Oh no” moments too. For example, when it is discovered that the child is   allergic to milk and has colic on drinking milk. Or later when there is development   of eczema, sneezing attacks or constant runny nose or wheezing and breathing   difficulty.

It is a common observation that children who have an allergic tendency show   signs of allergy sequentially. This is called the “allergic march”. Food allergies   usually appear earliest. So a child might have colic or eczema due to milk. This   usually starts at infancy to 2 years of age. Next to come is allergic rhinitis which is   characterized by runny or blocked nose and terrible sneezing. This usually happens   at age 3-6 years. Around the same time or slightly later, asthma may also appear.

They may appear sequentially, so that the earlier form of allergy disappears when   the new one appears. Or they can run concurrently – for example sneezing and   runny nose was already there and asthma also starts troubling.

But there is good news ! Just as these things appear sequentially, they may also  disappear at a certain age. A lot of children fortunately outgrow their allergies at   around puberty. This can happen in 50% of the boys and 40% of the girls.

Imagine you are watching the march at a 26th  you is the army contingent, then the tanks roll in followed by the air-show. The   allergic march is also like that.

Why do allergies appear in a preordained sequential pattern ?

We know that for allergy to develop there has to be a predisposition to allergy  and there has to be an exposure to the allergen. For instance, one cannot develop  allergy to penicillin without being exposed to it.

The immune system of a new born first encounters food allergens thru the gut.  Common allergens at this stage are milk, egg and wheat. The manifestations of   allergy are in the form of intestinal colic and skin allergy.

Air borne allergens- pollens and house dust- are encountered later. They have to   interact with the immune system for at least two years for sensitization to occur.   Hence allergic rhinitis and asthma develop a little later.

Scientist and doctors are now studying this allergic march deeply with the hope to  intervene in this cycle so that this allergic march can be halted or averted.