What is the Allergic March?
The "Allergic March" is a term that describes how allergic diseases progress throughout one's life.
The Allergic March usually begins with eczema - a dry, red, scaly rash that causes considerable itching and discomfort. Eczema is most commonly diagnosed within the first few months of life. In 1/3 to 1/2 of children, eczema is associated with an underlying food allergy. Food allergies (peanut allergy, for instance) generally begin to appear within the first three years of a child's life. Food allergy can cause gastrointestinal problems (such as colic, diarrhoea, etc.) and in some cases, it can be life threatening. As children age further, the allergic march may proceed to the development of asthma and/or rhino-conjunctivitis (sometimes called hayfever).
The pattern of development of allergic diseases - what types of disease occurs and the age at which they occur is highly reproducible (i.e. the pattern is the same in a large proportion of children).
Prevention as a cure
If your infant has eczema or egg allergy, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will go on to develop other, more serious allergic conditions. However, it does mean that they have an increased risk of following the allergic march. Up to 20% of children with eczema go on to develop peanut allergy by the age of 3, and 80% of these children will remain allergic for life.
Scientists now believe that prevention of allergic diseases early in life can pay dividends by preventing progression along the allergic march. But how best to prevent allergies in children?
The LEAP Study, being conducted by doctors at Guys & St. Thomas Hospital in London, has been designed to assess the most effective way of preventing peanut allergies in high-risk children.
Read about the LEAP Study ->