Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Food allergies in children seem to be getting more common, with foods like eggs and peanut butter as top culprits. New recommendations from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology urge parents to introduce highly allergenic foods, including fish, eggs, and nuts, to babies as young as ages 4 and 6 months, saying that early exposure may lower the risk of the allergy. More from the Wall Street Journal:
The recommendations are a U-turn from 2000, when the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines that children should put off having milk until age 1, eggs until 2 and peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts and fish until 3. In 2008, the AAP revised its guidelines, citing little evidence that such delays prevent the development of food allergies, but it didn’t say when and how to introduce such foods.
Food allergies affect an estimated 5% of children under the age of 5 in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The prevalence of a food allergy for children under 18 increased by 18% from 1997 to 2007.
“There’s been more studies that find that if you introduce them early it may actually prevent food allergy,” said David Fleischer, co-author of the article and a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. “We need to get the message out now to pediatricians, primary-care physicians and specialists that these allergenic foods can be introduced early.”
Dr. Fleischer said more study results are needed to conclusively determine whether early introduction will in fact lead to lower food-allergy rates and whether they should be recommended as a practice.
Image: Peanuts, via Shutterstock
Friday, July 20th, 2012
A new treatment is emerging for the treatment–even reversal–of childhood food allergies; giving kids small amounts of problem foods to train their immune systems to accept that the foods are not dangerous. The Associated Press reports on the latest example of this approach, which has been shown to reverse egg allergies in children:
In the best test of this yet, about a dozen kids were able to overcome allergies to eggs, one of the most ubiquitous foods, lurking in everything from pasta and veggie burgers to mayonnaise and even marshmallows. Some of the same doctors used a similar approach on several kids with peanut allergies a few years ago.
Don’t try this yourself, though. It takes special products, a year or more and close supervision because severe reactions remain a risk, say doctors involved in the study, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
‘‘This experimental therapy can safely be done only by properly trained physicians,’’ says a statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal agency that sponsored the study.
It didn’t work for everyone, and some dropped out of the study because of allergic reactions. But the results ‘‘really do show there is promise for future treatment’’ and should be tested now in a wider group of kids, said the study’s leader, Dr. A. Wesley Burks, pediatrics chief at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
More than 2 percent of young children have egg allergies, suffering wheezing and tight throats or even life-threatening reactions if they eat any egg, Burks said. Many will outgrow this by age 4 or 5, and more will by the time they are teens, but 10 to 20 percent never do.
Image: Eggs, via Shutterstock.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
A new “peanut butter” flavor of the Cheerios cereal brand, a favorite with kids, has upset many parents of children with food allergies. The Washington Post reports that at least one national allergy support group for parents, Allergy Moms, is raising the alarm, arguing that children may inadvertently share the snack with a peanut-allergic child.
“It has become the norm to have toddlers walking around with bags of cereal to snack on,” [Allergy Moms founder Gina] Clowes told the Post. “Toddlers are notoriously messy eaters. It [would] be difficult to distinguish this variety from ones that are ‘safe’ and one misplaced peanut butter Cheerio can cause a serious reaction.”
On the Cheerios website, the new product, which is multi-grain and low in calories, is described as a way to “indulge in real peanut butter taste without derailing your diet.” A warning on the page also states, “Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter contains peanuts. Cheerios has a commitment to allergen management. We can say with complete confidence that Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter will not cross-contaminate other Cheerios varieties. As always, if you’re concerned about allergies, we highly recommend that you always consult the allergen listing and the ingredient label on any product you may consume.”
Last week, a 7-year-old Virginia girl died at school, with exposure to peanut products the suspected cause. An estimated 8 percent of American children live with some sort of food allergy.
(Image via: http://www.cheerios.com/)