Our Chief Allergist Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan Discusses the New USDA Guidelines with FOX17
Our Co-Founder and Chief Allergist, Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan talked to FOX17’s Morning Mix on how important the new USDA guidelines are for helping to prevent 80% of food allergies in infants.
The new 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend feeding peanut and egg starting at 4 months to prevent food allergies for every baby, read more here.
Our Co-Founder and Chief Allergist, Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan talked to FOX17’s Morning Mix on how important the new USDA guidelines are for helping to prevent 80% of food allergies in infants. Ready, Set, Food! makes it easy to follow these new guidelines with our evidence-based solution in a bottle with no sugar or additives. We're excited to help spread more awareness about these important new guidelines, learn more from Dr. Marks-Cogan here:
Read the full interview below:
Todd Chance (FOX17 Morning Mix):
Food allergies are on the rise and most children diagnosed with one do not even have a direct family member with a food allergy. But numerous recent studies have shown that up to 80% of peanut, egg, and milk allergies can be prevented.
Leigh Ann Towne (FOX17 Morning Mix):
That's right. Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan is the Co-creator of Ready, Set, Food!, an easy and safe way to help protect newborns if you know someone with a little one. Or if that’s you, take a listen to this.
If you're a new parent, you're going to want to hear about the new USDA guidelines especially when it comes to allergies. And we have Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan on with us right now to explain what those new guidelines are. Good morning, Doctor.
Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan (Chief Allergist, Ready, Set Food!):
Good morning. Thanks so much for having me on. This is yeah, this is a really important topic, because it's actually a milestone. It's the first time that the USDA is providing recommendations for a baby's diet. And one of the key recommendations is that all babies should introduce allergenic foods like peanuts and eggs into their diet starting at four months of age.
"One of the key recommendations [from the USDA Guidelines] is that all babies should introduce allergenic foods like peanuts and eggs into their diet starting at four months of age."
So, you know, for an allergist, like myself, this is something that we've been telling our patients and families for years now because we know about the groundbreaking research that basically demonstrates that we can prevent hundreds of thousands of food allergies and children every year. So it's wonderful to now see this broader acceptance by the USDA’s inclusion.
Now that is a seismic shift in what most parents who have kids that have a peanut allergy or a wheat allergy or any other type have been living their lives. I mean, they've been avoiding those things like the plague and now they're being told to introduce this to them at such a young age. What a big shift. Now how can we make sure parents get the message?
Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan:
So that's the right question, right? This is so important. It's a milestone. It's the first time that you know that you are really focusing on this age group. And so all parents and pediatricians really need to take note of this. You know, as an allergist, and you know our company Ready, Set, Food!, we're really doing everything that we can to do our part to help spread the word, really looking at all avenues. So we're speaking at conferences, we recently appeared on Shark Tank, and we're able to partner with Mark Cuban who has been personally affected by food allergies. We're also partnering with major health systems like Advocate Aurora, which has 30,000 babies born every year. And we're going to continue to do what we can to get the word out and spread awareness. You know, food allergies, unfortunately, have become really an epidemic in our society. And so Ready, Set, Food! has made it our mission to educate parents and to make it easy for all families to be able to follow the research.
You know, this affects more than just parents with kids with food allergies. It's all of those other parents too. I'm a parent having to pack those lunches and making sure you had the almond butter and all the other things because you couldn't, didn't want to bring that into the classroom and this is really going to affect a lot of people. Now, you mentioned Ready, Set, Food!, tell us exactly what that is.
Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan:
Sure. So Ready, Set, Food! is an infant supplement that makes it really easy for families to introduce allergenic foods to their babies early and often and to follow the guidelines. We created it because Our Co-Founder’s son was diagnosed with multiple severe food allergies as a child and so he was motivated to find an easy way to try to prevent that from happening and other children.
"As an allergist, and as a mom, I know how hard it is to actually follow the guidelines and do early allergen introduction."
So I actually did a DIY introduction with my son and I tried to introduce multiple allergenic foods multiple times per week, you know, I pureed scrambled eggs, and I mixed Bumble with breast milk. And I found that it was really difficult. I had a really busy schedule, and it was really hard to make sure that he was getting the right amounts of those foods with the right frequency. And so we knew that we needed to make it easier so that all families could do this. And Ready, Set, Food! makes it really easy because it introduces common allergens by feeding it through a bottle and it's all organic. There are no preservatives, there's no sugar, there's no additives. It's actually just three real food ingredients, which are peanuts, eggs, and milk. We really just want to make it easy and I was actually lucky enough to have this product available when I had my second child, my daughter, and I used it with her. It really made a world of a difference compared to what I had done with my son.
So obviously, we don't want to just start grabbing peanut butter and putting it in their mouths, this is a much easier way to get that as you mentioned, and we've done that, and the peanut butter and all those different allergens. What age group are we talking about? I mean, there are kids, three, four, who are you know, suffering from these allergies? Is this something for them? Or is it only for newborns?
Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan:
So that's a great question. We recommend following the guidelines, which is to begin eating allergenic foods at four months of age and now we know that this is even part of the USDA dietary guidelines report. And so, for babies under 12 months of age, Ready, Set, Food! recommends using the product again beginning at four months of age all the way up until 12 months of age. After 12 months, you really should speak to your pediatrician or an allergist about doing early allergen introduction. Most people don't know this, but all babies are at risk of
developing food allergies. So genetics are not the only factor involved, which is why it's so important for all babies to be doing early allergen introduction starting at four months of age.
Now naturally, most parents who have seen that the reactions that these kids can have, with some of them are life threatening, are probably a little worried about saying, “Okay, I'm going to actually do this.” This feels counter intuitive to what I would be doing. Let's talk about the safety.
Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan:
Absolutely. So it's a really great question because what we know from all of the research is that infancy is actually the safest time to be introducing allergenic foods. If your baby is going to have a reaction, it is generally going to be mild. That is why the recommendations are for all babies. Now, if your baby has severe eczema, you should speak with your pediatrician first. But otherwise, the recommendations are for all babies, because we know that it's the safest time to be doing it. We also have, you know, newer research that looked at all of the public records that we have with regards to food allergy reactions, and severity and fatality. There have been no fatal reactions in children in infants to date in all the public data that we have in the US and in the UK. So there are multiple different reasons and that helps strengthen this idea that this really is the safest time. And then we know all of the groundbreaking research has shown us that this can prevent up to 80% of food allergies if we do early allergen introduction, so we get those allergens in early and often.
Doctor, thank you so much for the important information and the time this morning. Ready, Set, Food! sounds like a great product. I'm sure you're gonna want to check it out, thanks again.
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