Can babies suffer from allergic rhinitis? 

To establish to what extent infant runny noses could be attributed to allergic rhinitis, French  researchers led by Dr Isabelle Momas of Paris Descartes University surveyed parents of 1,850 children 18 months old. They also took blood samples from the toddlers to test for biological indicators of a nasal allergy.

Overall, 9% of the children had suffered possible nasal allergy symptoms (sneezing, stuffed or runny nose even when they did not have a cold or flu)  in the past year. These toddlers were also more likely than those without such symptoms to show biological markers of an allergy. For example, 19% had elevated levels of inflammatory immune-system cells called eosinophils,  compared with 12% of children whose parents reported no allergy-like symptoms.

Moreover, 5.5% of toddlers in the group who had suffered nasal symptoms were found to have immune system antibodies to an inhaled allergen – in most cases, to house dust mites or cat dander. That compared with just under 3% of the other children.

The researchers therefore suggest that the possibility of a nasal allergy should be considered in babies and toddlers with persistent symptoms, particularly if the parents have had such allergies.

Among the children with allergy-like symptoms in this study, 44% had at least one parent with a history of nasal allergies, versus 35% of the other children. When the researchers accounted for a number of other factors – like parents' income and smoking habits – they found that having two parents with a history of nasal allergies doubled the odds of a toddler having allergy-like symptoms.

Allergy, online August 30, 2010

First Punlished August 2010

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