Preventing Childhood Food Allergies: Tips from an Allergist-Mom
As a board-certified allergist, I’ve seen firsthand how families struggle with food allergies. Thankfully, findings from recent landmark studies have opened our eyes to new ways of thinking about allergy prevention in children. These studies showed that a baby’s risk of developing common food allergies can be reduced by up to 80% through early and frequent exposure to allergenic foods.
The risk of developing food allergies can be reduced by up to 80% through early and frequent exposure.
In addition, these clinical studies point to the importance of starting allergenic foods 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 (peanut, egg, and milk comprise 80% of all childhood food allergies). It was time consuming and frustrating, especially because the majority of what I offered my son to eat ended up either on my kitchen floor or on his bib. It was discouraging, but I was inspired to find a solution to the challenges of early and sustained allergen introduction.
Have a 4-11 month old baby? Check out our plans here!
I identified three barriers to early and sustained allergen introduction:
- Starting Early: Starting early is critical because there is a specific window starting at 4 months during which our immune systems develop either a positive or negative response to food proteins, but many babies aren’t developmentally ready to eat solid foods that early. Creating a powder containing allergens that can mix with breastmilk or formula is the best way to introduce these foods as early as 4-6 months of age.
- Sustaining Exposure: A baby’s immune system needs sustained exposure to develop a positive response to the foods. However, it’s nearly impossible to get a baby to consistently eat anything! Since the studies exposed infants to allergenic foods 2-7 times/week for 3-6+ months, I knew that creating a simple product would be the only way to maintain the exposure needed for prevention.
- Managing Dosage: Parenting is difficult as is; spending hours each week preparing the right dose of each allergenic food is unrealistic. Plus, parents sometimes feel nervous about introducing potentially allergenic foods to their baby. We start with a low dose to maximize safety and then increase over time to a higher maintenance dose to maximize effectiveness.
Motivated by my clinical and personal experience, along with a team of passionate physicians, leading experts and parents, we set out to create a product that made early and sustained introduction safe, simple, and effective. As parents, we knew we had to make Ready, Set, Food! easy, and as physicians, it also had to meet our high standards.
After over a year of research and development, we're proud to offer Ready, Set, Food! to families like yours, making it as easy and safe as possible to introduce babies to peanut, egg, and milk. Because there is currently no cure for food allergies, prevention is our best defense. My second child was born a few months ago and I’m excited that Ready, Set, Food! is ready for her to use!