Allergy Awareness Week: Sneezes And Wheezes Blighting A Fifth Of Children's Lives


Allergies are forcing a fifth of children to miss out on playing with friends and going outside, according to new research.

And thousands of children's lives are so blighted by sneezing and wheezing that they're falling behind at school because they're unable to concentrate.

The survey of 1,000 parents was carried out by Piriton to coincide with the charity Allergy UK's Allergy Awareness Week.

It found that 18 per cent of allergy-affected children couldn't concentrate on school work; the same number avoided spending time with friends; and 15 per cent did no physical activity, such as playing outdoors or going swimming.

The problem is so bad for some families they've had to cancel family breaks and even birthday parties.

Latest figures show hospital admissions for allergies increased by 8 per cent between 2013 and 2014, with more than 20,000 people a year admitted to hospital in England for allergic reactions.

The most common allergies are hay fever, year-round rhinitis - often mistaken for a permanent cold - allergic asthma and eczema and food allergies.

Allergy UK's clinical director Maureen Jenkins said: "I think hay fever for Britain's 18 million sufferers will probably be bad this year. When you get good weather you also get more air pollution.

"The pollen attaches to the air pollution particles which means hay fever can be worse in towns than the countryside."

One reason for the rise in allergies is thought to be that houses are now so clean that children do not build up resistance.

Ms Jenkins said: "Nowadays about eight per cent of young children have food allergies whereas 40 years ago the figures were fairly insignificant.

"Allergic reactions are more frequent, often more severe and children can have reactions to more than one food."

In the Piriton survey, 22 per cent of parents said their child's allergies has interrupted family activities.

For example, traditional family holidays such as going camping or to the beach are more difficult and family days out have been cut short due to a child struggling with an allergy flare-up.

Sixteen per cent said allergies had prevented their child from doing fun things with the family such as going to the zoo, a farm or a theme park.

On a day to day basis, more than one in 10 parents said allergies even prevented their kids from doing something as simple as lying on the carpet to watch TV or play computer games.

Piriton's Julia Bauer said: "Allergies are not just a springtime problem and can affect children all year round. In fact our research shows that over a fifth of Mums (21 per cent) say their child suffers from allergies at all times of year.

"Allergies can also impact on children's everyday lives with a similar number (23 per cent) of sufferers experiencing allergic symptoms on a daily basis."