Allergies in children are more common today than they were 50 years ago, leaving one to question whether allergies are acquired or inherited. Although most doctors believe that heredity is the primary factor for a child's allergies, new studies show that there are steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of allergies in children.
One possible reason for the increase in children with allergies is the vast reduction in the amount of breastfed babies. Breastfeeding builds immunity to allergens, something that no formula can provide. Although children who were breastfed can still develop allergies, the chance is much lower when compared to formula fed infants. Studies also show that the longer a child is breastfed, the lower their risk. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its policy to recommend breastfeeding for at least one year, and longer if desired. It also suggests that exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months is optimal. This means that breastfeeding is not supplemented with food or formula or any other form of nutrition.
Another contributing factor to the rise of allergies in children is the premature introduction of solid foods into their diet. When solids are fed to an infant before their digestive system is fully developed, it weakens the immune system because the body has to work so hard to digest the food. This has been shown to cause allergies, especially to food.
So while it is possible that grandma's allergies may be passed down through the blood line, the good news is that there are still steps you can take to reduce or prevent allergies in your bundle of joy.