Bee sting allergies: Are they hereditary?

When my toddler gets mosquito bites they swell up significantly. I am extremely allergic to bee stings, wasp stings, etc. and wondered if these allergies are hereditary.

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

Currently there is no evidence to suggest that insect allergy can be inherited. And in fact, people who have other environmental allergies are at no greater risk for allergic reaction to insect stings than are others.

Allergies to bee stings are not caused from the venom of the sting itself but from the body's reaction to the bee venom. Sometimes the release of these substances is so great and wide-spread that is causes significant reaction in the person resulting in trouble breathing, a large rash, and a big drop in blood pressure.

When a child gets a bee sting distinguish if the child gets simply a local reaction (no matter how bad it looks) confined to the area where the sting occurred or if more general symptoms occur, such as itching, wheezing or difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips and eyes, or losing consciousness.

If the latter occurs, this should be considered an emergency and be evaluated immediately.

If your child has had one of these reactions in the past, you should discuss with your doctor the carrying and use of a self-injectible syringe of epinephrine. The use of this does not necessarily stop the reaction but buys time until the child may be brought to the emergency room. You should also consider the child wearing a "Med-Alert" type bracelet to identify this allergy.

Your child is probably at no greater risk for having an allergy to bee stings, however, your heightened awareness of the possibility of this occurring is to your child's advantage.

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