Allergy-ill children: Too much care makes you ill


More and more girls and boys suffer from atopic dermatitis and allergies – but also the parents would have to be treated, the pediatrician says. Peter Liffler.

In your clinic you treat children with so-called atopic diseases, ie atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergies such as hay fever. And you also look at their parents. Why?

DR. PETER LIFFLER: Many of the children, often infants, are seriously ill. They have severe rashes and are constantly scratching themselves. Of course, the parents worry about her. However, I have found that mothers and fathers tend to cling and shower their children with care , which does not do the children good.

What are you up to?

The children are with us for several weeks. In the beginning, the parents still have problems letting go: they carry it around with them constantly, let it sleep in their bed, the mothers breastfeed longer than it is appropriate for the age of the children. We show parents why it is better to give their children more freedom. At the end of the stay, many of the girls and boys appear much more open and happy, and the symptoms have diminished. At the same time, we also work with classic therapy methods such as hyposensitization for allergies or special creams for atopic dermatitis .

Is not there a danger that you will patronize the families too much?

Most parents who come to us are very happy because they see how positively their child is changing, not just in terms of the disease. They have the opportunity to change their behavior, break through routines.

To see that too much love is not good for their children: how difficult is that for the parents?

The first week in which the families are with us in the clinic is always the hardest. You have to convince the parents in peace. And in 95 percent of the cases we succeed too.

You are of the opinion that exaggerated care by mother and father has an influence on the disease …

I even assume that this behavior favors the outbreak of a disease. Of course, genetic factors also play a role, many of the parents even have atopic symptoms. The child’s illness is often a stress reaction: it wants to develop, to detach, but not to, because the parents slow it down. This conflict puts a lot of pressure on the child.

In a pilot study you come to the conclusion that parents who suffer from atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergies are more sensitive than other mothers and fathers. Often they are less stress-resistant, more excitable, mentally unstable. What does that mean for the children?

If parents are very sensitive, they tend to be constantly worried about their children and often engage in symbiotic relationships with them. Sometimes even a psychotherapeutic measure can make sense, in which mothers and fathers learn sustainably to deal better with their sensitivity.

Do not stigmatize the parents here?

Nobody should feel denigrated by our studies. The fact that today more people suffer from allergies, neurodermatitis and a higher sensitivity also has to do with the greater social insecurity. Breaking many partnerships, who belongs to the middle class, can slip more easily into the neediness than before. The climate has got rougher overall.