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Q
Allergic Already?
My ten-month old grandson has been diagnosed with allergies. I hate to see him start on medications at this early age. Are there any natural products or methods to help ease allergy symptoms in infants?
A
Answer (Published 11/13/2003)

An estimated 40 to 45 million Americans have allergies and most of them first developed symptoms as infants or children, so it isn't unusual for a child to be diagnosed at ten months of age. As you may know, allergies tend to run in families. If one or both of his parents is allergic, your grandson probably inherited the predisposition.

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You don't mention what type of allergies your grandson suffers from - whether his symptoms are related to food or to airborne allergens such as dust or pollen. Whatever is responsible, an allergic response represents "misplaced immunity" against something that really is not a threat to health. It also is a learned response and one that can be unlearned. The goal of treatment should be to convince the immune system that it can coexist peacefully with the substances it is reacting to. In someone so young, it is important to try to limit exposure to potential irritants of the immune system.

My principal recommendation would be to eliminate cow's milk and milk products from your grandson's diet. The milk protein casein is irritating to the immune system and removing milk from the diet can go a long way towards improving allergic conditions in young children. Cow's milk products, cultured or not, low-fat or not, contain casein. As a general rule, I recommend eliminating all dairy products to anyone with persistent allergies as well as to those with chronic respiratory conditions, frequent colds, bronchitis, sinus conditions and autoimmune diseases.

In addition to eliminating dairy products, you might consider consulting a homeopathic practitioner. Homeopathy can be particularly effective for young children with allergies.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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