Many people suffer from allergies to various products, chemicals, and foods. Whether you’re allergic to shellfish, nuts, latex or wheat, you are not alone. During pregnancy, you’ll probably be particularly careful about avoiding the things you are allergic to, as your own health becomes the health of your baby.

However, when you are pregnant, avoiding these things actually becomes more difficult, because your body becomes more sensitive to allergens. For example, if you have a shellfish allergy, you might normally be unaffected if you eat food that was cooked in a kitchen alongside shellfish. During your pregnancy though, you might react as if you ate the shellfish yourself. In fact, 25% of women suffer an allergic reaction during their pregnancy. Some aspects of an allergic reaction will not affect your baby at all, but others might.

If you have an allergic reaction that affects the skin, such as a rash or hives, this will have no affect on your developing baby. You can even usually cure the problem with over-the-counter antihistamines, but always check with your health care provider before trying any new medication during your gestation.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing symptoms that affect your respiration, such as shortness of breath, wheezing or throat swelling, the lack of oxygen could have serious effects on your baby. In this case, it is vital that you seek medical attention immediately to avoid causing lifelong damage to your child.

Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of reaction to allergens, and it could be fatal. Amazingly, babies in the womb are actually able to protect themselves for a short time against maternal anaphylaxis by naturally producing the histamines that they are being deprived of. However, since anaphylaxis is potentially fatal, you should seek medical attention immediately to save both yourself and your baby.

If you know that you are at risk for a severe allergic reaction to any type of food or material, make sure you speak with your doctor about safety precautions during pregnancy. S/he might even suggest that you keep an inhaler or dose of epinephrine on you just in case there is a problem. While mild allergic reactions will not have any effect on your baby, severe ones could turn into a matter of life and death for you and your baby. Though you can’t stop your allergies, being prepared is the next best thing.

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