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6 Inherited Health Conditions

Allergies

Will the kids get them? There's about a fifty-fifty chance they will if you or your spouse suffers; if you both have allergies, there's an even greater chance the kiddos will, too, says Dr. Saal. But don't expect them to be sensitive to the same things you are. Remember, we pass on only the susceptibility to allergies, which can manifest in myriad ways.

Signs they got nabbed: Frequent colds, sinus or ear infections, or a constantly runny, stuffy, or itchy nose can point to allergies. Same goes for itchy eyes, rashes, or hives. And wheezing or a chronic cough—telltale signs of asthma—may be the biggest tip-off that your child is destined to develop allergies because the two conditions so often go hand in hand.

What you can do: If any of these symptoms appear—as they often do between the ages of 3 and 5—tell your pediatrician. For mild cases, he may suggest medications such as antihistamines (wait for the okay before giving one) and/or prescription nose drops, which may provide ample relief; if they don't, or if your child has severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, your doctor will want to pinpoint the problem with allergy tests -- either the skin-prick or blood-test type. If needed, other medications and immunotherapy (allergy shots) are available and can bring tremendous relief. But sometimes it's a matter of finding the right approach for your family. "I have pretty bad allergies, and a few years ago, I started noticing that my then six-year-old son had circles under his eyes and seemed tired and snuffly all the time," recalls Diane Umansky, a mom of three in New York City. "The pediatrician recommended antihistamines, but the two we tried made him really hyper and interfered with his sleep in a major way. He finally got relief after we got allergy-proof bedding covers and began vacuuming religiously." In other words, do what works!

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