Stories about: food allergies

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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Health headlines: Boosting brainpower, treating overuse injuries and the latest on food allergies

Health headlines

Boston Children’s Hospital’s doctors and researchers are constantly working to uncover and understand health and medical questions. Health Headlines is a twice-monthly summary of some of the most important research findings.

Top news this week includes research focused on how early learning experiences shape development, a report on recovery from overuse injuries and a study on the relationship between blood cells and allergies.

How home visits for vulnerable moms boost kids’ brainpower

PBS News Hour reports on how rapidly expanding medical program for low-income first-time mothers combines social services with the latest in brain science. Dr. Charles Nelson, of Boston Children’s Hospital, is interviewed about his on-going research that focuses on a child’s early learning experiences and how it can shape their developing brain and impact early learning.

The best way for teens to recover from overuse injuries

The Wall Street Journal reports on overuse injuries when unrecognized and untreated they can sideline athletes from play and lead to more serious injuries and disability. Dr. Lyle Micheli, an orthopedic surgeon and director of Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine, was interviewed for the article.

Blood cells could determine whether kids get allergies

A new study suggests one reason why children develop sometimes lethal food allergies. At birth, their blood is rich in cells that can promote a hyperactive immune response.  Dr. Oliver Burton, a researcher from Boston Children’s Hospital, provides insight in the Science Magazine article.

Learn more about food allergies in children.

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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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Pregnancy and peanuts: the end of the avoidance theory

Pregnant women often avoid (or at least limit) some of the foods they’d normally like to eat because of the chance those menu items could hurt the health of their baby. In many cases it’s the right thing to do, but women who fear that eating peanuts during pregnancy could cause their child to one day develop a peanut allergy needn’t worry, according to a Boston Children’s Hospital study.

“Our study showed that increased peanut consumption by pregnant mothers who weren’t themselves nut-allergic was associated with lower risk of peanut allergy in their children,” says senior author Michael Young, MD, of Boston Children’s Allergy and Immunology Division. “Assuming she isn’t allergic to peanuts, there’s no reason for a pregnant woman to avoid peanuts.” The study was recently published by the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

With the great rise of food allergic children and life-threatening reactions in the 1990s, many doctors began advising women to avoid highly allergenic foods like peanuts, nuts and shellfish during pregnancy and while nursing. Pediatricians also advised parents not to give peanuts to any child younger than 3 years old. These recommendations were based on the hypothesis that exposing a young, immature immune system to highly allergenic foods increased the risk of sensitization and could lead to the development of allergy.

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