The Allergic March
Children who are prone to allergy can often go on to develop further allergies during their childhood. These may overlap so that they suffer from more than one at a time, or one allergy may subside as another starts.
Allergies and their symptoms often appear in a particular sequence during their childhood, and this progression of the symptoms and allergic disease is known as the 'allergic march'.
In this 'march', children often develop one set of allergies and symptoms in an order related to their age and development. The word 'march' suggests that children pass through each of these stages. However, sometimes a child will take the allergies and symptoms from one stage with them, as they grow older and develop other allergies and symptoms. In this way, allergies and atopic diseases can overlap.
The Allergic March Diagram
(Diagram courtesy of LEAP Study, Evelina Children's Hospital, London)
As shown in the diagram, the first sign of the allergic march may be the appearance of eczema in an infant. A typical pattern of allergy will then be to develop food allergy, rhinitis (affecting the airways), and then asthma later on. However, this pattern does not apply to every child, and it is hard to predict how one child with allergy will experience this progression compared to another. Many children who do experience allergic disease in the pattern of an allergic march may grow out of their allergies in early adulthood.
It is thought that if the allergic march can be better understood, then children may be able to be protected from developing allergies and allergic diseases.
Last updated:March 2012