Overview - Genetic Connections


Remember when Mom had all the answers? We do. Does your child have a constant runny nose or sore throat? Does he or she exhibit unusual behavior after eating specific foods? Have paint or chemicals in new carpet made your child dizzy or nauseous?

These are questions that a parent can best answer. We believe that parents are the experts when it comes to knowing when their child is sick. At Allergy Connection, we make a special effort to create a partnership between the parent and the doctor. Listening is the first step to diagnosing a medical problem, especially an allergy problem, and because children often will not or cannot tell their parents if something is wrong, it is necessary for a doctor to pay special attention to the observations that parents make every day. At the offices of Richard E. Layton, M.D., we realize the important role parents play in their child's health and well-being. So for over 38 years, we have been listening to adult patients and parents to help children. If you suspect that you or your child may be suffering from an allergy problem, call our office. We will listen.

Family Ties: Genetics and Allergies
Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a parent's life. Feelings of joy and anticipation, however, are often accompanied by concerns over the health of the newborn child. The medical community has increased public awareness about diseases that can be transferred from parent to child, including Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle-Cell Anemia and Hemophilia. Yet one condition that is seldom mentioned to parents is allergies. Millions of children are born each year with allergies and parents are often unaware of them until their child becomes ill.

The term allergy is most frequently associated with an adverse reaction caused by inhalants such as pollens (trees, grass, weeds, molds) and animal danders (cat, dog). In fact, allergies are much broader in scope and are caused not only by inhalants, but by the food we eat and chemicals present in our air, food and water. Like genetic diseases, new parents should be aware of their own medical history of allergies. It is generally accepted that children are more likely to develop allergies if someone in their family has them. Indeed, if one parent has a history of allergies, 30% of his or her offspring may develop allergies; if both parents have allergies, the incidence increases to approximately 75%. In Dr. Layton's experience, this estimate is not only accurate, but frequently both the parent and child will have similar types of allergies.

So what can a parent with allergies do for his or her child? A parent cannot control the genetic likelihood of allergies, but several things can be done to prevent or minimize future allergic problems. Breast feeding for the first 6 to 12 months of a child's life will help prevent the onset of allergies. Parents should also make sure that their child follows a nutritional diet, limiting the amount of junk food, sweets, and milk their child ingests. This approach will aid parents in decreasing the likelihood that their child develops allergies.

How can parents recognize if their infant has allergies?
There are several symptoms that parents should be aware of that offer a good indication of allergies:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Irritability
  • Increased vomiting and colic
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Chrome nasal congestion
  • Increased frequency of ear infections

Family Connections
In the process of a child's diagnosis, Dr. Layton has experienced an interesting development in family allergies. Parents, who have spent years prioritizing their children's medical needs, often discover something about their own health after their child's allergy evaluation.

Adults often attribute headaches, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms to the stresses of work and family life. Once a child has been treated for allergies, a parent may realize that the medical complaints they have could be caused by an allergic problem similar to the one their child is experiencing.

Several years ago, Dr. Layton treated a ten year-old girl with multiple medical symptoms including fatigue, frequent colds, muscle pain, chronic cough, headaches, and decreased attention span. The girl frequently missed school and complained of increased symptoms from December through March. Upon examination, the young girl tested positive to several pollens, dust mites, foods and many molds. The child began immunotherapy treatment and improved significantly. She now has a good energy level, improved attention span and no muscle pain.

An interesting aspect of this case is the child's mother. After taking care of her daughter's medical problems, the mother became more aware of her own medical complaints. She too had been experiencing multiple nasal symptoms, increased sore throats, muscle and joint pain and fatigue. She visited the office of Dr. Layton and tested positive to many of the same pollens, molds and foods as her daughter. Immunotherapy has now significantly improved her health.

Every year many children and parents suffer needlessly from various symptoms caused by allergies. Despite its grand design and all of its wonders, the human body is not perfect and is subject to all of the sensory elements of the environment. You and your child can be directly affected by the food, water, air and internal environment to which you are exposed.