5 Things to Know about the Eczema and Allergy Connection in Children

If your baby has eczema, does that mean “the Allergic March” has begun? A pediatric allergist and immunologist from Henry Ford Health shares new findings on allergic disease.

What is the “Allergic March?” No, it’s not that month every year that has you itching and sneezing. The term refers to a widely accepted medical theory that indicates a child with eczema, often seen early in life, could be a warning sign of other allergies to come. 

While there can be an eczema and allergy connection in children, the presence of eczema doesn’t always mean that food allergies, asthma or hay fever may follow. It turns out that the journey from eczema to other allergic diseases isn’t as straightforward as once thought.

In a blog on the Henry Ford Health website, Dr. Amy Eapen, a pediatric allergist and immunologist, explains that the path from eczema to other allergies involves many factors and varies among individuals. “Your genetic and environmental background plays a significant role in the allergic diseases you might develop,” she says.

Henry Ford Health Dr. Amy Eapen Quote

Here are five things to know about allergies, how they may cluster and when to take action.

1. Revisiting ‘Allergic March’ theory

Factors like exposure to pollution can heighten eczema risk, while prenatal exposure to dogs might reduce it, says Dr. Eapen. “Risk for allergic diseases can also vary by ethnicity or race. In fact, Black children are more likely to develop eczema than white children, and other subgroups also have varying risk.” 

2. New study offers some surprising results on the eczema and allergy connection in children

Recent research led by Dr. Eapen focused on a diverse group from suburban and urban Detroit, with a significant portion being Black individuals. The findings suggested that Black children with a history of food allergies were more likely to develop hay fever or seasonal allergies, regardless of having eczema. Surprisingly, children without eczema but with food allergies showed a higher likelihood of developing asthma by age 10. 

“This indicates that while allergic diseases are interconnected, the connections are more complex than previously thought,” Dr. Eapen says.

3. Proactive steps for parents

If your child has eczema, it’s important to be vigilant for other allergies, although Dr. Eapen advises against allergy testing solely based on the presence of eczema. She suggests consulting with an allergist to discuss the potential risks of other allergic diseases. 

One theory proposes that introducing highly allergenic foods like peanuts early on might be recommended to reduce the likelihood of allergies developing. “The earlier these foods are introduced, the less likely your child will be allergic,” says Dr. Eapen. 

One note of caution: if your child is at high risk for food allergies (e.g., you have them or their sibling does), check with your doctor about when and how to introduce these foods.

4. Stay alert for signs of other allergies

While some allergic diseases like asthma or hay fever are rare in the first few months of life, the presence of eczema or food allergies in your child could be a signal to stay vigilant for any respiratory issues as they grow older. Understanding the signs early on can lead to timely intervention and better management of potential allergies.

5. Check with your child’s doctor

Regular check-ups with a pediatric allergist can provide invaluable guidance and support for managing your child’s eczema and monitoring for other allergic conditions.

 “We can’t test for some allergic diseases early on, but being alert to symptoms and [being] proactive in dietary and environmental management can make a significant difference,” Dr. Eapen says.

For more information and to find a doctor, visit henryfordhealth.com. Metro Parent also answers your top kids’ health questions.

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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