If your family has a history of allergies, it’s understandable to be concerned that you might have passed on these same allergies to your baby. Consultant Paediatric Allergist Dr Adam Fox is here to explain whether allergies are in fact hereditary.
Are allergies genetic?
The tendency to develop allergies and associated allergic problems, such as hayfever, asthma and eczema is known as atopy which is the genetic tendency to develop allergies. It is also more common to be atopic if both, rather than just one of the parents already has allergies.
However, specific allergies are not inherited. If you, your partner or one of your other children have an allergy, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your other children will develop the same allergic problems. Some babies will have allergies even if no family member is allergic, and those who are allergic to one thing sadly are more likely to be allergic to others.
Inheriting food allergies
Unfortunately you can’t alter your children’s genes, so, if one or both parents have a food allergy, it does make it more likely that your baby will too. If they do inherit the allergic tendency you or your partner has, then it seems that it is environmental factors that will influence which allergies your baby might get.
It’s also worth noting that children who have other allergic conditions such as eczema are more likely to develop food allergies than those who do not have allergies or atopic conditions.
Will my baby outgrow his food allergies?
Having one food allergy does increase the risk of having further food allergies. Certain allergies commonly go together such as egg with a peanut allergy or a peanut allergy with an allergy to tree nuts and sesame.
When looking at food allergies in particular, thankfully many children will naturally outgrow these anyway. As their immune systems mature, most children outgrow allergies to egg, milk, soy and wheat during childhood.
Find out more about food allergies in babies here.