Earlier this week, Dr. Scott Sicherer of Mount Sinai Hospital and Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News Health and Diet Editor appeared on the Today Show to talk about kids with food allergies. Here’s five key points they discussed:
1. Environmental factors seem to be responsible for the 50% increase in child’s food allergies over the past decade, but we don’t know exactly which environmental factors are causing it.
2. If you have a history of allergies in your family, it is no longer recommended that you wait until your child is 3 or older to introduce them to any of the top 8 food allergens, but you should be prepared to watch for and respond to possible symptoms when you do. Focus on feeding your child a healthy, balanced diet instead. And if your child does show signs of allergies, wait to introduce them to these foods until you talk to your doctor.
3. If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, don’t experiment with feeding them small amounts of that food to build up a tolerance. Let the professionals who are currently researching these types of treatments find the safest and most appropriate way to handle this and work with them on it, perhaps even in a clinical study. Currently these studies are only designed to reduce risks, not cure allergies.
4. Know when and how to use epinephrine self-injectors, which is a life-saving first aid medication used in anaphylactic emergencies.
5. There are a variety of fun treats and packaged snacks available to offer kids with food allergies. If you’d like to accommodate food allergic kids at your next kiddie party (birthday or otherwise), talk to their parents for food ideas and find other ideas on the Allergy Cookie website.
Thanks for taking the time to discuss this important matter!