Allergy (Allergies)

Who is at risk for allergies and why?

Allergies can develop at any age, and the initial exposure or sensitization period may even begin in the womb. Individuals can also outgrow allergies over time. Whereas many children outgrow food allergies, nasal or environmental allergies are something that individuals often grow into over time, often into young adulthood.

Why, you may ask, are some people "sensitive" to certain allergens while most are not? Why do allergic persons produce more IgE than those who are nonallergic? Although we certainly do not fully understand why one person develops allergies and another does not, we know there are several risk factors for allergic conditions. Family history, or genetics, plays a large role, with a higher risk for allergies if parents or siblings have allergies. There are numerous other risk factors for developing allergic conditions. Children born via Cesarean section have a higher risk of allergy as compared to children who are delivered vaginally. Exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of allergy. Boys are more likely to be allergic than girls. Exposures to antigens, use of antibiotics, and numerous other factors, some of which are not yet known, also contribute to the development of allergies. This complicated process continues to be an area of medical research.

Reviewed on 11/26/2013

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