Food Allergy Living Blog




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Prepare for food allergy emergencies

Posted 4.24.15 | Nutrition Specialist


A box of bandages just won’t do for a food allergy crisis. Even diligent efforts at allergen avoidance can be thwarted. You never know when a severe food allergy reaction can occur and require emergency response actions. Serious reactions are often unexpected, sudden and require immediate attention. Time is of the essence when there is a risk of an anaphylactic reaction, an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction. So like Scouts, its best to “be prepared” with both plans in place and an emergency kit. Following are some suggestions for both.

Plans

  1. Wear a food allergy awareness bracelet
  2. Prepare an Emergency Action Plan
  3. Schedule Calendar alerts for updating allergy-related information and Emergency Kits

Emergency Kit

  1. Decide where emergency kits are needed: home, school and travel/car
  2. Store kits in a temperature-controlled area
  3. Use an easily accessible, durable case that is clearly marked
  4. Supplies:
  • 2 epinephrine auto-injectors, if prescribed
  • Oral antihistamines
  • Small tube of hydrocortisone ointment (for topical application)
  • Fast acting asthma medication (if prescribed)
  • A copy of your Emergency Action Plan
  • “IF FOUND” info card for the emergency kit to be returned

Supply sources suggestions:

Bracelets- Fashionable food allergy bracelets are available that will suit the needs and style of anyone. Consider your local pharmacy or take a look at these website offerings:

  1. Food allergy Research and Education (FARE) has an online store with bracelets and other emergency-related supplies 
    https://store.foodallergy.org/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=MBAND5
  2. Allerbling bracelets are both an educational tool and conversation piece
    http://www.amazon.com/Allerbling-Food-Allergy-Awareness-Bracelet/dp/B0058KDN6U
  3. Medicalert has a variety of choices
    http://www.medicalert.org/product/catalog/medical-ids/youth-kids/bracelets

Emergency Action Plans can be found on a number of allergy-related websites. Here are several sources to consider:

  1. Food Allergy Research and Education website
    https://www.foodallergy.org/document.doc?id=234
  2. Food Safe Schools Organization website
    http://www.foodsafeschools.org/FSAG_CD/Resources/FAAN/Food_Allergy_Action_Plan_English.pdf
  3. St. Louis Children’s Organization website
    http://www.schoolwebdata.com/deerfieldwi/docs/Health-Food%20Allergy%20Plan.pdf

What do you keep in your food allergy emergency kit?

-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN


New Resource: CMNuA Blog

Posted 4.24.15 | Nutrition Specialist

 

The Children's Medical Nutrition Alliance (CMNuA) is a  nonprofit organization, was developed out of the explicit need for a unified voice to advocate for patients who require medical nutrition to live and thrive. As a national coalition of parents, healthcare providers, advocacy groups and corporations, CMNuA’s mission is to advance the cause of medical foods and formulas (as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 21 U.S.C. 360ee (b) (3) 21CFR107) through education, support and advocacy.

By connecting families, healthcare providers, communities and others, CNMuA improves medical foods access by increasing awareness of common food allergies and diseases that routinely require these foods and formulas in their overall medical management. CMNuA also helps eliminate access barriers to these foods and formulas, by being a source of information on medical food matters such as coverage inequalities and the resulting economic impact on American families.

As part of being a source of information on medical foods, CMNuA recently launched its blog where the organization offers resources on how to find appropriate medical food coverage, understanding severe food allergies, and how to build community around disease-specific allergies.

Head over to cmnua.org/blog to learn more information about the organization and the work they are doing.

 


10 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Home to Control Allergens

Posted 4.22.15 | Nutrition Specialist

The sun is out, the weather is warming up and it’s time to open your windows to the sun and beautiful spring. That said, spring cleaning is on the horizon as well. Whether you like this process or not, it’s necessary for allergy sufferers. While it is impossible to make your home completely allergen-free, below are 10 tips to clear most of allergens from your home:

 

1.       A well-ventilated house and non-leaking ductwork is the first vital line of defense against allergens. Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in your air-conditioning systems and vacuum cleaners.  Don’t forget to change filters in air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, vent registers, air purifiers and dehumidifiers.

 

2.       Dust is the most common cause of indoor allergies. Use a wet or treated cloth that attracts dust, minimize dust-catching clutter and clean dusty surfaces regularly so that dust doesn’t have a chance to accumulate.

 

3.       Vacuum your house thoroughly reaching every nook and corner. Try to vacuum your house atleast once or twice a week. We recommend using vacuum cleaners where you don’t have to replace filters frequently.

 

4.       Clean the clutter from your house. The less stuff in your house, the fewer places for allergens to hang out.

 

5.       Dust mites thrive in bedding. At least once a week, wash pillowcases, sheets, and blankets in very hot water and dry them in a hot dryer to kill dust mites. 

 

6.       Your bathroom is to mold what your bedroom is to dust mites. Be sure to fix any leaks and clean walls with a nontoxic bathroom cleaner.Run an exhaust fan after you take a shower, and replace any bathroom wallpaper with tile or mold-resistant paint. 

 

7.       If you have pets, vacuum frequently and wash your pet once a week.

 

8.       Keep your windows closed when pollen counts are highest: in the early morning hours, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

 

9.       Maintain the humidity level in the house at about 40 percent to keep mold and dust at bay.

 

10.   Get rid of old rags, newspapers, clothes, other porous items.

 

Finally, we want you to be safe from allergens while spring cleaning. Consider wearing an allergy relief mask while cleaningto protect yourself from fumes, dust, and allergens.

 

Do you have any spring cleaning tip that we missed? We would love to hear from you.

 


Exciting News in Pennsylvania

Posted 4.21.15 | Neocate Admin

We are elated to announce Pennsylvania will be joining the list of mandated states to provide insurance coverage for amino acid-based formulas.

Click here to learn more about the Medical Foods Insurance Act of Pennsylvania


Top 5 Food Allergy Apps

Posted 4.15.15 | Nutrition Specialist

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we live in an ‘Appy World’ with several mobile applications available to manage our day-to-day activities. With rapidly evolving technology, managing food allergies has become easier. There are several apps that tell you what is in your food, show you how to administer epinephrine, and identify safe food options when you’re traveling or away from home. Here are our top five picks for the best food allergy apps:

·    Sometimes it’s difficult to search for an ‘allergy-friendly’ restaurant while you’re travelling across the US. Download Allergy Eats, it offers a database of restaurants organized by city, zip code, or your current GPS location. With this app you can also review peer-ratings of the restaurants’ allergy-friendliness, and post your own ratings. This app is available in the iPhone and Android store for free. 

·         My Food Facts allows you to shop for groceries and identify food allergens in a product by simply scanning its barcode. All you have to do is create a personal profile that summarizes your food allergies. The app sends alerts to the shopper if food allergens are present in the scanned product, taking out the guess work. 

·        The My EpiPlan app includes everything from management to tips. It also has information on step-by-step use of an EpiPen. The app helps you keep track of which allergens you and your family need to avoid, and where your EpiPen (epinephrine) Auto‑Injectors are located and when they expire. The app is available in the iPhone and Android store for free.

·         iAvoid Food Allergy is a simple and user-friendly app designed for the food allergy community that helps to identify and avoid products and ingredients responsible for the eight most-common food allergies.

·         Allergy Journal allows you to track your food allergy symptoms and log what foods you are eating. The journal allows you to quickly scroll through all of the entries you’ve created, showing foods and symptoms in different colors for easy identification.

We would like to hear from you about the apps you use to manage your family’s food allergies. Do you have an app you love more than these? Please share it in the comments. 


Corn Allergy 101

Posted 4.9.15 | Nutrition Specialist


As a Nutrition Specialist here at Nutricia North America, I spend a lot of time talking to patients, parents, and health care professionals. Some of the questions I receive most often are “Do Neocate products contain any ingredients derived from corn?” and “Are Neocate products safe for an individual with a corn allergy?” Before we delve into these questions, let’s discuss the basics of a corn allergy.

Allergic reactions to corn are rare and often difficult to diagnose using standard skin or blood tests. Because a corn allergy can be difficult to diagnose through traditional methods, your allergist may recommend a food elimination diet in which you avoid corn and any derivatives of corn, for a specific period of time (normally two to four weeks). During this time, symptoms will be monitored, specifically to determine if there is an improvement in symptoms while corn is eliminated from the diet, and if symptoms reoccur when corn is reintroduced. If a corn allergy is identified by the allergist, treatment would involve avoidance of corn and ingredients derived from corn.

Corn is not among the top eight food allergens in the United States, for which special label information is required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. Because corn is not required to be called out on the label, it is important for an individual with a diagnosed corn allergy to become familiar with ingredients that are derived from corn. Some common sources of corn are:

  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cellulose
  • Caramel

Please note, these are just a few examples and not a comprehensive list of ingredients derived from corn. If you are ever unsure as to whether an ingredient is derived from corn, it is best to contact the manufacturer.

Now that we have a basic understanding of a corn allergy, let’s address these frequently asked questions as mentioned earlier. The primary carbohydrate source in each of our Neocate products is derived from corn: The primary carbohydrate source in powdered Neocate products is corn syrup solids, while the primary carbohydrate source in liquid Neocate products is maltodextrin. Corn syrup solids are derived from corn starch, and maltodextrin is structurally similar to corn syrup solids. These ingredients are often used in nutritional formulas as a carbohydrate source because they offer a blend of simple and complex carbohydrates. In Neocate products, they are used in proportion with amino acids and fat to provide a balanced nutritional profile. No Neocate products are completely free of corn-derived ingredients.

That being said, the carbohydrates used in all Neocate products undergo extensive refinement in a multi-step process that includes purification, distillation and drying. This process is designed to remove impurities, including protein and fat that are naturally present in corn. As proteins are what the body responds to in a typical allergic reaction, this removes the trigger for patients with a corn protein allergy. With that said, we cannot make the claim that our Neocate products are completely “corn protein free”. In order to make such a claim, each and every batch would need to be tested for the presence of corn protein, which we do not do.

We cannot say with certainty that Neocate is “safe” for anyone – that’s a question for your healthcare team. It is important to note that leaders in food allergy diagnosis and management, such as those at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, find a majority of patients with corn protein allergies tolerate refined corn syrup solids with no allergy symptoms. In practice they do not restrict corn syrup solids in the diets of patients who are allergic to corn. If you have questions about the safety of the corn syrup solids or maltodextrin in Neocate, it would be best to discuss this with your healthcare team, especially the allergist, to see if they recommend a supervised trial or other testing to see if Neocate is appropriate.

Since we’re on the topic of corn, I figured I would mention two facts that are of importance to many Neocate families. The corn from which Neocate's carbohydrate ingredients are sourced is certified by the suppliers not to be genetically modified. In addition, the corn syrup solids used in Neocate products would not be expected to contain fructose and are not the same as “high fructose corn syrup” or “HFCS”. HFCS is produced from corn starch in which about half of the glucose molecules have been chemically converted to fructose. Many consumers prefer to avoid HFCS for a number of reasons, and we do not use this ingredient in Neocate products.

-Kendra Valle, RDN

References:
http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/other-allergens
http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies/types-food-allergy/corn-allergy
http://www.aaaai.org/ask-the-expert/avoidance-corn-allergen.aspx

Image source: Liz West

 


Dry-roasted Peanut Allergy Research

Posted 4.7.15 | Nutrition Specialist

In research shared at the end of last year, a team from Oxford University shared research that suggested that dry-roasted peanuts may be more likely to provoke a peanut allergy than peanuts exposed to lower levels of heat in mice. You can read part of their findings, which were shared in a Letter to the Editor in the well-known Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The team exposed two groups of mice without a peanut allergy to different types of peanut protein. One group got protein from raw peanuts and the other group got protein from dry-roasted peanuts. The mice that got protein from dry-roasted peanuts were much more likely to develop a peanut allergy. You can read the lead researcher’s press release here.

The Oxford team proposed that the higher temperatures seem to make the proteins in peanuts change in a way that makes them more likely to influence the mouse immune system. This may be different from the way other common food allergens behave when heated. For instance milk and egg proteins are broken down by exposure to heat, such as in baked goods. That’s why some allergy research teams are studying how small amounts of baked goods that contain milk or eggs can help some people with those food allergies better tolerate those foods over time. (Make sure you ask your allergy team about this if you’re curious – DON’T try it on your own!)

What’s the key take-away message? At this time, the findings from this research only tell us about mice. However, the research in mice suggests that dry-roasted peanuts may play some role in humans developing a peanut allergy. There are many other factors that influence development of food allergies. More research needs to happen before we’ll know whether dry-roasted peanuts and their products play a role in developing allergies and whether it would help anyone to avoid them.

- Rob

Image c/o Daniella Segura


Allergy-Friendly Easter Egg Hunts

Posted 4.2.15 | Nutrition Specialist

Easter egg hunts put the fun into Easter Sunday and are a great way to engage kids in physical activity. We LOVE egg hunts!  Here are great tips to plan your own allergy-friendly Easter egg hunt this weekend:

1.      A win-win-win trade in:  Have the kids participating in the egg hunt exchange plastic eggs for prizes of their choice.  Prizes can be anything! This way you don’t have to worry about food allergies, stuffing individual eggs and it’s a healthier option because it deducts excessive sugar.

2.      Let the clue come to you:Older kids can enjoy finding eggs filled with clues for a grand prize at the end of the hunt. The grand prize can be a basket with goodies like cool school supplies, small tech prizes or gift cards.

3.      Safe for all: It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you plan to stuff the Easter eggs, make them all safe. Little ones can get shy while talking to adults who are not their parents. Keeping this in mind, keep all the stuffing allergy-friendly.

4.      Think beyond food treats: Non-food prizes can make great gifts inside or outside the Easter eggs. There is a wide variety of gifts for kids which include: mechanical pencils, tattoos, coloring books, boxes of crayons and cool erasers which you can distribute worry-free. These treats keep the little ones occupied and engaged in the egg hunt.

5.      Pre-planning for candy options: There are many allergy-friendly candy options available in the market for your little guests with food allergies. You can research on these options before hand by getting in touch with the parents of invitees for the egg hunt. Share the final list with all the parents to make sure all the candies listed are safe for all.

6.      Healthy finger foods:It doesn’t harm to have a few food items for the egg hunt. Fresh and thin cut veggies like carrots, celery and roasted peppers are safe and healthy.

With numerous special occasions and festivals each year, we are sure that kids with food allergies have learnt to advocate for themselves. Keep preparing your kids the same way. Neocate wishes its community a delicious allergy-friendly Easter! 


Find a Pharmacy: New Zip Code Search

Posted 3.31.15 | Nutrition Specialist

At Neocate we are always looking new ways to improve our community experience. It is critical that the families who rely on Neocate have access to the most accurate and reliable information. This includes knowing where to find Neocate. 

To ensure the search is seamless, we have created a new zip code search tool on our website. The zip code search will allow parents and caregivers to enter their zip code and locate the closest pharmacy carrying Neocate.

 

With this new tool, families can spend less time worrying about where to find Neocate and more time enjoying precious moments with their families.

You can access the new tool here. If you have any questions about Neocate our customer support center is always ready to help. Give us a call at 1-800-365-7354.


Food allergies, food allergies go Away!

Posted 3.26.15 | Nutrition Specialist


Thumb-sucking, diapers, and baby talk are outgrown at some point by most children. So what about outgrowing food allergies?

Allergies are the result of the immune system gone awry, when the body mistakenly believes a food to be dangerous and overreacts to protect itself. Food allergies can be short-lived or can last a lifetime. Today, there are more kids with food allergies, fewer kids are outgrowing them, and for those who do outgrow them, it’s happening later in life. Food allergies that are outgrown may even resurface later in life. It would be great if food allergies were like a Houdini act and we could make them disappear! Sometimes food allergies are a guessing game, but we know of a number of factors that we think influence food allergy longevity and when a child outgrows them. Here are just a few standouts.

Influencing factors

  1. The Food Culprits
       There seems to be a pecking order to outgrowing food allergies. Milk, eggs and soy tend to be outgrown more easily and earlier than allergies to nuts and seafood. Research findings point to the easy breakdown of milk and egg proteins in food preparation, especially in baking as the dry heat is able to break down the proteins. Other food proteins are built tougher, are more resistant to breakdown, and are thus more allergenic even after cooking.
     
  2. Mean Genes
       Ethnicity, gender, and genetics may impact whether and when you see diminishing or disappearing food allergies. Odds are stacked against African American children, females, children with multiple food allergies, those with more severe food allergic reactions, and those with food allergy that develops later in life.
     
  3. Location, location, location!
       Where you live may play a role in your allergy profile too. This may be associated with different environments and eating habits of your home and neighborhood. Southern living in America may find you more prone to developing allergies than your Northern countrymen, and urban dwellers may be more prone to allergy than their rural counterparts.

Treatment, testing and tolerance

Approaches abound for tolerance testing and even inducing tolerances to certain allergies. Following are a few of the trending tests and tolerance inducing approaches. These should always be conducted under medical supervision, as potential for severe reactions is possible.

  1. Under the tongue
       Known as sublingual or oral immunotherapy (SLIT or OIT), this is a method associated with allergy testing and may also be effective in building tolerance to certain foods. A small amount of offending food is placed under the tongue or in the mouth and reaction monitored. Ask your allergy care team if this is an option for you.

     
  2. Bites of baked goods
       Sometimes called the baked good challenge, children are given samples of pancakes, muffins and other baked goods with incremental increases in the portion size offered when positive tolerance is demonstrated.

     
  3. Early Exposure
       Recent research has suggested that offering foods that are common allergens to infants when they are ready to start solid foods may actually help prevent the risk of developing food allergies for some. This is counter to the still common approach of waiting until later ages (1 to 2 years old) to introduce these foods, which may actually increase the risk of developing a food allergy for some individuals, especially those deemed at high risk for food allergies.

Efforts continue to explore the science behind the basis of food allergies as many mysteries remain. Still hard to explain is the who, what, when, why, and where of allergies. As it is, there is no magic pill, potion, or trick that can make food allergies go away. Yes, some children will have their food allergies diminish and disappear and some children will outgrow them. While waiting for Houdini to make them go away for good, there are support and resources that can help.

Consider the following organizations:

What has your family’s experience been with outgrowing food allergies?

-Jody L. Benitz, MS, RDN


References:

Painter K. Food allergies outgrown by more than one in four kids. USA Today website. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/10/food-allergies-outgrown/1695451. Accessed March 23, 2015.

NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel, Boyce JA, Assa’ad A, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(6 Suppl):S1-S58.

Gupta RS, Springston EE, Warrier MR, et al. The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States. Pediatrics. 2011;128(1):e9-e17.

Food Allergy Sensitization — New Study Finds Geography Plays a Role. By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD.Today’s Dietitian, July 2014, Vol. 16 No. 7 P. 12.

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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.