Author: John Lee

Back to school with food allergies

food allergyA back-to-school checklist for parents whose child has a food allergy can set the stage for a safe and happy school year. It’s important to focus on communication with key people, being sure to ask questions. If the answer is uncertain or unclear, continue to ask until it is clear.

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Ask the expert: Is it possible to prevent peanut allergy?

I have seen so many of my friends’ children diagnosed with severe food allergies. Is there anything I can do to stop my baby from having a peanut allergy?

 

Panicked about peanuts

John Lee, MD, clinical director, Boston Children’s Hospital Food Allergy Program
John Lee, MD, clinical director, Boston Children’s Hospital Food Allergy Program

Food allergies are on the rise. They are more prevalent than ever before. It is estimated that one in 13 school kids have a life-threatening food allergy. Although some food allergies can be outgrown, peanut allergies tend to be lifelong.

In the hope of preventing allergies, doctors used to recommend avoiding foods that are more commonly allergenic—like peanuts, tree nut, fish and egg—in the first years of life. However, since this did not stem the rise in food allergies, our thinking has changed toward earlier introduction of foods to induce tolerance. For the past several years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended introducing these foods in the first year of life for those without a history of allergies.

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine looked at this closely. It evaluated the effect of early and deliberate introduction of peanuts in infants on the development of food allergies. The results of this study were more successful than anyone had ever thought they would be, and are changing how we approach prevention of food allergies.

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