Allergy: Its relevance in Preconceptual Care and Pregnancy.
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The term allergy is derived from two Greek words which mean 'altered reactivity' - that is an adverse reaction to a normally harmless substance which may be a food or other environmental agents such as dust or pollen or chemicals.
A classical Allergy is used to describe those cases in which the adverse reaction to a substance usually occurs quickly, within an hour and the reaction is obvious and can be quite severe. Known as 'anaphylactic shock', these reactions are quite rare and effect a small percentage of the population. Reactions can be delayed and can affect more than one area of the body. Symptoms can often take the form of swelling of lips and/or throat. Skin rashes and weals can appear, breathing difficulties, runny noses or digestive symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting may suddenly and painfully make themselves evident.
Classic allergies are defined as having a specific immunological reaction which can be detected by a pin prick test or RAST (Radioallergosorbent test).
Intolerances otherwise known as 'delayed allergies' affect a great number of people and can develop at any time. Symptoms occur rarely immediately food is eaten. Reactions are usually delayed by several hours or even days. This delayed reaction makes detection of the culprit food so difficult. The antibody involved is an immunoglobulin or IgE. Food intolerance testing measures an individual's levels of food specific IgE 's.
Because what one eats and drinks during pregnancy has a direct effect on the unborn child, mothers need to be sure to have eliminated allergic foods from the diet before conception. Research shows that the foetus begins producing antibodies against allergic substances as early as eleven weeks into pregnancy.
The health of the mother has a direct and profound effect on the health of the foetus in the womb. If the mother has allergies or intolerances, they should ideally be dealt with before becoming pregnant so that the mother is as healthy as she can be.
Symptoms of allergy/hypersensitivity or intolerance include and have been associated with: