Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor at Fox News, says that 40 percent of U.S. children have seasonal allergies, and when a parent has allergies, his or her child will probably have them too.
‘As children, boys get ore allergies than girls, but as they get older, women usually catch up to men,’ says Dr. Alvarez.
‘It is during the first decade of life that [the immune system] learns which biological intrustions it needs to protect you against. What this means is, if you don't get exposed to many of the harmless biological threats in your environment during your first decade of life, if you do not challenge the immune system early, you may pay the price with seasonal allergies and asthma throughout the rest of your life.
‘I'm talking about the dangers of over protecting our children. Some of this overprotection has been institutionalized in the form of widespread use of antibiotics, vaccinations against various diseases, cleaner food and water, and better living conditions. But some parents may make this 'problem' worse by keeping their kids at home in a 'sterilized' environment: never taking them to the park, never letting them play in a sandbox, never letting them roll around in the grass, never letting them have a pet at home, and keeping them away from other kids who may be sick.
‘By underexposing our children to bacteria, certain viruses, and other minor threats in the environment, their immune systems will not develop the appropriate responses, and they may end up with seasonal allergies and other problems of an inexperienced immune system. Studies show that if you have a pet when you're a kid, you are less likely to get asthma. The same applies to running and rolling around in the grass at the park when you are three years old; those who do tend to have fewer seasonal allergies later on. A little exposure is a good thing.’
See our Seasonal Allergy Solution Guide to learn how to prevent and treat seasonal allergies.