Paediatric Allergies and Immunology

What are paediatric allergies?

boy and girl sibilings smiling at camera outdoors

A child who sneezes or coughs a lot, who frequently develops a rash or hives, or who gets a stomachache, cramps or nausea after eating certain foods may have allergies. Any child may develop allergies, but they are more common in children from families with a history of allergic reactions. Paediatricians at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre are available for consultations for children with suspected allergies.

What are the symptoms of paediatric allergies?

Allergy symptoms can vary widely by patient and can be anywhere from minor or severe depending on the reaction to the allergen.

Paediatric allergy symptoms can include:

● Skin rashes or hives
● Difficulty breathing (asthma)
● Sneezing, coughing, a runny nose or itchy eyes
● Stomach upset

In the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur, however this is very uncommon.

What causes paediatric allergies?

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to usually harmless substances. The substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen.

Childhood allergies can be triggered by a number of different allergens such as:

● Pollen
● Dust
● Food
● Insect bites or stings
● Animal hair or fur
● Mould
● Medications
● Latex
● Cigarette smoke
● Perfume
● Car exhaust fumes

Your child could be allergic to one allergen or a number of allergens. Your paediatrician will use your child’s history as well as skin and blood tests to help determine which substance is causing the allergic reaction.

Enquire with our paediatricians.

Did you know?

A recent study in Singapore found that children in households without air conditioning are at increased risk of developing mould allergies or polysensitization (becoming sensitive to three or more allergens).¹

What are the possible complications of paediatric allergies?

father mother and two children outdoors

Complications from paediatric allergies are rare, but in the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur. The most common anaphylactic reactions are to food, insect stings, medications, and latex.

When should I bring my child to a specialist for paediatric allergies?

Paediatricians are used to caring for the special needs of children. A paediatrician experienced with treating paediatric allergies will know about the different ways allergies present themselves at different ages, and their optimal treatment. If you think your child has allergies, you can make an appointment with one of our paediatricians to have tests to identify the allergen(s) and to optimize treatment.

How should I prepare my child for his or her appointment?

Start a diary before the appointment and keep track of what symptoms your child experiences and what you think causes them. Be ready to discuss your child’s symptoms in detail. If your child is having skin tests, the allergist may recommend you stop giving your child antihistamines a week before the test.

How do specialists test for and diagnose paediatric allergies?

Along with a detailed history of your child’s symptoms, a paediatric allergist is able to perform skin and blood tests to determine what your child is allergic to. Your paediatrician will explain these tests fully and are highly trained at interpreting the results. Based on these test results they will come up with an individualized treatment plan for your child.

What treatments are available for paediatric allergies?

Once your child’s allergens have been identified, your paediatrician will decide on a treatment plan. The first course of action will be limiting your child’s exposure to the allergen. Where this is not possible, antihistamines may be prescribed. These may be in the form of a pill, nasal spray, or eye drops. Your child may also be prescribed corticosteroids in the form of an inhaler if they suffer from asthma.

Please do not hesitate to ask if you any questions regarding the diagnosis or treatment of your child’s allergies. Your paediatrician will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Request an appointment with a paediatrician today.

[1] Kidon, M. I., See, Y., Goh, A., Chay, O. M. and Balakrishnan, A. (2004), Aeroallergen sensitization in pediatric allergic rhinitis in Singapore: Is air-conditioning a factor in the tropics?. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 15: 340–343. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3038.2004.00152.x