Childhood asthma and allergies have been on a steady increase worldwide, in the US alone there are more than 6 million children with asthma under the age of 18. Asthma drugs have potentially serious side effects and are not the optimal solution to asthma, particularly for children. During the last 15 years, there has been an alarming 160% increase in the rate of asthma in children under 5, sadly many of these children could have been prevented from ever developing asthma. The good news is you can do something to safeguard your child’s health by taking a few simple measures in your own home.
According to experts, the major causes are home air pollutants with house dust mites being the worst, next to cockroaches and secondhand tobacco smoke. Although dust mites and the feces they produce are found in vast numbers in every home, don’t despair: drastically reducing the population of these microscopic, spider-like insects is easily done by washing bedding in hot water weekly. Next, using zippered, plastic covers on pillows and mattresses will keep them from coming back. Since dust mites thrive in moist or humid conditions, it’s important to lower your home’s humidity level to less than 50% with a dehumidifier. Carpets, upholstered furniture, all dust and dust collecting objects should be removed from your baby’s bedroom. It’s also a good idea to keep pets out of your baby’s bedroom, as pet dander is also a very common allergy and asthma trigger.
Cockroaches thrive in moist environments, so to discourage them from invading your home, be sure to fix all leaky pipes and plug up any holes in walls or near plumping. Since they love to feed off crumbs, food droppings or open food containers, keeping food in sealed containers and maintaining a clean kitchen will discourage them from taking up residence. Beware of using pesticides as they can trigger an asthma attack.
Secondhand smoke during pregnancy and after pregnancy should be avoided completely. If family members smoke, have them do it outside and don’t let visitors smoke in your home. For women smokers who are planning a pregnancy, making an effort to quit smoking for the sake of their future baby’s health is a wise choice. If your town or city has poor air quality, then you should invest in a HEPA air purifier to keep air born pollution to a minimum inside your home.
Food allergies in infants and children can be life threatening and are also known to contribute to the development of asthma. Delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods to your baby is a good preventative strategy. Mothers who breastfed for at least 4 to 6 months can benefit their babies with stronger immune systems too. If breastfeeding is not possible, then avoid feeding your child milk or soy based formulas, instead use partially pre-digested protein hydrolysate formulas.
It’s best to feed your baby solid foods only after they are six months old, then vegetables, rice, meat, and fruit can be introduced to their diets. Trying each food one at a time makes it easier to identify and eliminate any foods that cause a reaction. When your baby reaches one year old, milk, wheat, corn, citrus and soy may be added. Wait until they are two years of age to serve them eggs. Next, when your child is 3 years old you can introduce fish and peanuts.
Taking these preventative measures will help ensure your baby a healthy childhood free from allergies and asthma.