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Campaign targets allergies in babies

Many chilldren suffer from pollen allergies Keystone

Allergies often start in babies and linger on as a person ages, leading to an "allergy career", Swiss experts said on Wednesday.

This content was published on March 9, 2005 - 16:05

They have now launched a national awareness campaign to tackle the problem, giving advice on the causes and how to prevent such allergies from taking hold.

The Swiss Centre for Allergies, Skin and Asthma, known as "aha!" said that allergies were the most common chronic affliction among babies.

Experts said that allergies among the young tended to develop in the same way, leading to an "allergy career".

Among babies the main allergy was neurodermatitis – a skin condition – normally as a result of a reaction to milk. It affects between ten and 15 per cent of babies.

Around half of the babies later developed asthma from the age of two onwards. This can be caused by allergens such as animal hair which are inhaled.

By school age, up to one in five children is already allergic to pollen.

Smoking ban

The centre says that much can be done to help prevent the development of allergies. This includes a ban on smoking in homes and the removal of dust and animals. It also recommends that babies be breast-fed for the first six months of their lives.

One of the main problems is that allergies are not often correctly diagnosed among small children.

If an allergy is detected early enough, it can help stop other allergies and ideally other related medical conditions from developing.

"If allergic illness is not detected or not sufficiently treated, then it limits the development and quality of life of the affected children," said aha!

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Allergies often follow the same pattern and children with a tendency to allergies often suffer from related illnesses.
Neurodermatitis is the most common allergy among babies (ten to 15%).
Around half of those affected later develop asthma after two years.
Up to a fifth of school children are allergic to pollen.

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In brief

Aha! was formed in 2000, following on from the Allergy Sufferers Organisation founded in 1935.

One in five Swiss is estimated to suffer from allergies and more than 400,000 people have asthma. Some experts believe that these figures are likely to rise.

Aha!’s main role as an organisation that mediates between doctors and patients is to give advice and information on allergies and related illnesses.

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