Preventing Food Allergies: Tips from an Allergist-Mom – Ready, Set, Food!
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  • Preventing Childhood Food Allergies: Tips from an Allergist-Mom

    By: Katie Marks-Cogan M.D.

Preventing Childhood Food Allergies: Tips from an Allergist-Mom

By: Katie Marks-Cogan M.D.

Preventing Childhood Food Allergies: Tips from an Allergist-Mom

By: Katie Marks-Cogan M.D.

Our head allergist, Katie Marks-Cogan, M.D., is board certified in Allergy/Immunology and Internal Medicine, and treats both pediatric and adult patients. She is a member of the scientific advisory board for Ready, Set, Food! To learn more about Katie Marks-Cogan, M.D., visit Our Story page.

 

As a board-certified allergist, I’ve seen firsthand how families struggle with food allergies. In particular, the parents of children with food allergies take countless precautions to protect their kids from accidental exposure. In addition, families incur significant healthcare costs (reported to be as much as $4,200 annually) to manage these food allergies. Thankfully, findings from recent landmark studies have opened our eyes to new ways of thinking about allergy prevention in children. Allergists like me are now teaching patients and their families about the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) and Enquiry About Tolerance (EAT) clinical studies, amongst others. These studies showed that children’s risk of developing some of the most common food allergies can be reduced by up to 80% through early and frequent exposure to allergenic foods.

Children’s risk of developing some of the most common food allergies can be reduced by up to 80% through early and frequent exposure to allergenic foods.

In addition, these clinical studies point to the importance of starting allergenic foods in children at an early age, around 4-6 months. So when my son David was 5 months old, I prepared a week’s worth of egg, peanut, and yogurt snacks every Sunday night (because peanut, egg, and milk comprise 80% of all childhood food allergies).  I created a daily feeding schedule with precise dosing for each meal. It was so time consuming and frustrating, especially because the majority of what I intended for my son to eat ended up either on my kitchen floor or on his bib. Although I was initially discouraged, I was also inspired to find a better solution to the challenges of early and sustained allergen introduction.

I was also inspired to find a better solution to the challenges of early and sustained allergen introduction.

I identified three barriers to early and sustained allergen introduction in kids:

  1. Starting Early: Although studies promote starting early, many babies aren’t developmentally ready to eat solid foods at 4-6 months. Starting early is so important because there is a specific window within which our immune systems develop either a positive or negative response to certain food proteins. Creating a powder containing allergens that can mix with breastmilk or formula is the best way to introduce these foods as early as 4 months of age.
  2. Sustaining Exposure: A baby’s immune system needs time and repeated exposure to develop a positive response to the foods. However, it’s nearly impossible to get a baby to consistently eat (or do) anything! The challenges of sustaining exposure were highlighted in the (EAT) study, where fewer than 50% of parents were able to comply with the feeding schedule and minimum dosing requirements. Since the landmark studies exposed infants to allergenic foods 2-7 times/week for 3-6+ months, I knew that creating a product that included a simple and regimented process would be the only way to achieve the same benefits that were demonstrated in the studies.
  3. Managing Dosage: Parenting is difficult and time consuming; spending hours and hours each week preparing the right dosage of each allergenic food is unrealistic. Plus, parents sometimes feel nervous about giving potentially allergenic foods to their baby for the first time. We therefore wanted to create a product with a low starting dose to maximize safety that then increases over time to a higher “maintenance” dose to maximize effectiveness.

When we discovered that there wasn’t already a product on the market that made early and sustained introduction safe, simple, and effective for parents, we decided to create one! As parents, we knew we had to make Ready, Set, Food! easy. But as physicians, we knew it had to meet high standards.

As parents, we knew we had to make Ready, Set, Food! easy. But as physicians, we knew it had to meet high standards.

After over 12 months of research and development, we're proud to offer Ready, Set, Food! to families like yours. Our gentle, guided system makes it easy and safe for families to introduce peanut, egg, and milk to their young children. Because there is currently no cure for food allergies, prevention is our best defense. My second child was born a couple months ago and I’m excited that Ready. Set. Food! is ready for her to use! To learn more about how Ready, Set, Food! makes early allergen introduction easy, visit our How It Works page.   


 

About the author: 

Our head allergist, Katie Marks-Cogan, M.D., is board certified in Allergy/Immunology and Internal Medicine, and treats both pediatric and adult patients. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she received her M.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She then completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Northwestern and fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania and CHOP.  After finishing training, she moved to Southern California and currently works in private practice. She is a member of the scientific advisory board for Ready, Set, Food! She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 year old son, and 2 month old daughter where she enjoys hiking, building LEGO castles with her son, and cooking with her family.

 

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.

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