Food Allergy Prevention in New Orleans
Get a personalized approach to food allergy prevention for your children in New Orleans. Dr. Reena Mehta is a board-certified allergist and immunologist that specializes in food allergies in infants and young children. Dr. Mehta has helped countless patients navigate food allergy concerns and prevent the development of serious food allergies. Schedule your visit today!
“I’m the parent of a son with multiple food allergies. When our son was first diagnosed, my wife and I consulted with multiple nationally know allergists. We were frustrated with the care we received and our lack of progress. We were then referred to Dr. Mehta who has been a godsend…Since our son has been seeing Dr. Mehta, he’s overcome several of his food allergies. There really is nothing like being able to eat out at restaurants with your child after packing all of his meals for a year.“
– Ravi Legha, 19-month old son Gavin, December 2018
Is Your Child At Risk of Developing Food Allergies?
Common food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. If your child has a sibling or at least one biologic parent that has an allergic condition, then your child is generally considered to be at risk of developing a food allergy. This is especially true if your child is already exhibiting signs and symptoms of skin allergy, nasal allergy, or asthma. Special accommodations should be made by parents of children at risk of food allergies, but it’s important not to avoid allergenic foods early in the child’s development unless you’ve observed an allergic response or have received a formal diagnosis from an allergist.
Preventing Food Allergies During Pregnancy
Allergy prevention starts with pregnancy. In general, it is not recommended to avoid allergenic foods during pregnancy unless you’re allergic yourself or are given medical advice that directs you to avoid specific foods. Recent evidence indicates that there is no significant allergy prevention benefit to your child if you avoid allergenic foods while pregnant.
Preventing Food Allergies When Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the recommended method of nourishing your infant during the first four to six months. As with pregnancy, mother’s should not avoid allergenic foods when breastfeeding either. There is no evidence that avoiding allergenic foods prevents allergies in your babies when breastfeeding, and in fact, breast milk is the least likely feeding method to trigger an allergic reaction in your newborn.
Some evidence also suggests that breast milk may reduce the risk of cow’s milk allergy, as well as other symptoms of allergies and asthma like eczema and wheezing.
Introducing Solid Foods
Allergenic foods like egg, dairy, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish should be introduced in the same way following fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains. Importantly, delaying the introduction of allergenic foods may increase your child’s risk of developing allergies, so it’s critical to introduce allergenic foods early.
Consult your allergist if you observe an allergic reaction when introducing a new food. Eczema is the most commonly recognized allergic response in infants, but you should also monitor for stuffy nose, sneezing, teary eyes, wheezing, diarrhea, swelling, and general signs of discomfort in your child. A food reaction normally occurs within minutes of eating the trigger food, but symptoms may also appear a few hours later.
If you suspect a food allergy in your child, the best course of action is to see an allergist to confirm a diagnosis. Self-diagnosing an allergy is not recommended due to false positives, and unnecessary food avoidance can cause more harm than good for your child.
Dr. Reena Mehta specializes in pediatric food allergy diagnostic techniques, including oral food challenges, skin testing, and blood testing. Food challenges involve feeding your child increasing amounts of a suspected food trigger in a controlled environment to find out if an allergic response occurs to a specific food. Skin and blood testing are useful to confirm the exact substance that triggers the allergic response
Having your child tolerate foods that they’re allergic to is important even as our communities become more accommodating to food allergies, because there will be many situations where your children are unable to control their environment or the foods that they’re exposed to.
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is an emerging treatment in which gradually increasing amounts of an allergen are fed to an individual with food allergies. The goal of OIT is to increase the amount of exposure to an allergen that the individual can tolerate. For example, someone with a peanut allergy may be given a very small amount of peanut protein to build up a tolerance to peanuts over time. Palforzia peanut allergy oral immunotherapy is approved by the FDA. So far, OIT has not been shown to cure peanut allergies. However, OIT can help reduce the severity of future allergic reactions, and recent evidence suggest that the earlier your child starts with OIT, the more effective it is.
Anaphylaxis Action Plan
Outgrowing Food Allergies
Food Allergy Prevention in New Orleans
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