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July 9, 2013

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Allergies among city kids on the rise

ABOUT 10 percent of Shanghai children suffer from allergy and, nationally, 20 percent of infants and children struggle with allergies like eczema and asthma.

The incidence of allergy has risen in recent years largely due to environmental pollution, parents' over protection, and preference for caesarean section for childbirth, experts said during the World Allergy Day yesterday.

Mite, mold and pollen are considered the major allergens, while the increasing pollution from PM2.5 can make people more vulnerable to allergens.

Different types of children have different types of allergies at different ages. For babies less than a year old, eczema and food allergy are their major problems, while asthma grows on children aged three or older. Rhinitis usually strikes children aged five or older.

"Allergy can also be inherited from parents," said Dr Yang Yun from the Shanghai Children's Medical Center's allergy department.

"Parents should do an allergy diagnosis if infants suffer from eczema for over a month and children battle repeated conjunctivitis and wheezing."

Low awareness of early-stage symptoms, excessive cleaning at home and the high caesarean births also raise the risk of allergies. Experts said caesarean birth avoids babies from contacting bacteria in mother's birth canal but the use of antibiotics and delayed breast-feeding after the surgery are bad for the child's immunity and raises the risk of catching allergy. About half the children are delivered through C-section in the city as well as in the country.

"Early diagnosis and treatment are key to control allergy," Yang said. "Families with allergies should avoid raising pet animals and plants. More importantly, allergy treatment is a long-term process, which lasts for at least two years. Parents should cooperate with doctors instead of being over anxious and hasty and quitting the therapy half way."


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