Food Allergy Living Blog

Nutrition Specialist Column

We’re having a baby - should we get a dog and move to a farm?

Posted 11.10.16 | Nutrition Specialist


Science is crazy. Sometimes we hear in the news about researchers looking at things that seem completely off-the-wall. On the other hand, a lot of scientists and researchers look at things that can have meaningful impacts on our lives. Sometimes, the research can even be practical for everyday folks like us.

Today, I’ll share some interesting research related to pets, the environment and allergic conditions. I find it interesting not just because I love science, but also because it can be helpful. Sure, I geek out over research sometimes, but when it’s practical research, everybody wins. The questions at hand: can owning pets or living on a farm actually provide a BENEFIT when it comes to allergic conditions?

The state of affairs

  1. Lots of people are allergic to pets. I have some friends who have allergies to cats, which range from mild (sneezing) to pretty bad (difficulty breathing). I have other friends who have allergies to dogs. I even know people who seem to be allergic to just about any animal with fur.
     
  2. Many children who have one allergic condition also have one or several other allergic conditions. For example, it’s not uncommon for an infant with a cow milk allergy to develop allergies to other foods. There are also children who have atopic dermatitis as well as asthma. Any number of combinations is possible, and allergies to animals are in the mix too.
     
  3. We used to think that avoiding things that we have the potential to become allergic to is the best way to prevent actually BECOMING allergic to that thing. For years parents were cautioned to avoid introducing peanut into their babies’ diets until they were several years old. (That advice has changed – but that’s a subject for another post!)

With all this in mind, it seemed logical that for a child with one allergic condition, it might be best to avoid things that might become a future allergen. Why not? If my child already has food allergies, then maybe they’re likely to also become allergic to animals, so why take the chance with a new pet?

But in science, a theory is just a theory. The scientists and researchers among us don’t assume these are facts. We should be grateful that, just because an idea is logical, our scientific friends are willing to test those theories to see if they hold up! When they test a theory they come up with a hypothesis – something they think will be true related to the theory, but that they want to test.

In fact, one theory that you may have heard of is the ‘Hygiene hypothesis.’ This is the idea that in western societies, like North America, our environments (home, school, work, the kitchen counter) are so clean – or hygienic – that our immune system doesn’t develop normally, and that may be contributing to the increases we’re seeing in allergic conditions. We’re beginning to realize that some exposure may be good, especially at key “windows” of time when exposure to something may help LESSEN the risk of later allergy.

The latest science on pets, farms, and allergies

With all that in mind, scientists have tested several hypotheses related to the environment an infant is raised in, such as growing up in a household with pets, and the effect it has on the likelihood of developing certain allergic conditions. We wrote on this topic last in 2013. As an update, here’s some of the latest research that’s been shared in the past few years:

  1. A recently published study found that infants who live in a house with a dog for their first year of life may be less likely to develop eczema and other allergies, depending on a few factors. Read a summary of the research here.
     
  2. Researchers in Sweden looked at data from their entire nation. They found that having a dog in the first year of an infant’s life was associated with a lower likelihood of asthma in children beyond 3-6 years old (but not younger). Growing up on a farm with animals was also associated with a lower likelihood of asthma through age 6. Read a summary of this research here.
     
  3. Maybe farms help? Researchers in Europe looked at a large group of children, comparing them based on how rural their environment was. The children who grew up closer to more forest and agricultural land were less likely to develop environmental allergies. They think the microbes in the environment can be key – read more here.

So what’s the catch?

Well, not everyone is able to pick up and move to a farm! Second, pet ownership is also a big decision. Those are obvious considerations.

Also, research is messy and often leads to more questions than answers. First, not all research that’s been conducted in this topic has come to the same conclusions – some of the results are contradictory. And sometimes you find something you don’t expect. For example, researchers in Finland found that growing up in a household with a dog or cat may be slightly more likely to lead to an allergy to that animal than growing up in a house without one.

With that in mind, the best thing to do may be to talk to your little one’s pediatrician and/or allergist to see what their take is on pets and allergic conditions. They often have a good understanding of the science, including how best to interpret the research, and can offer some guidance or at least help you make an informed decision.

One final note: keep in mind that there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed! You can certainly ask your allergist for more information, but don’t believe the hype if you see a breeder selling “hypoallergenic” dogs.

-Rob

How do I come across such interesting topics? In my role as a Medical Advisor and Nutrition Specialist at Nutricia I get to attend major conferences, such as the annual meeting for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). I always discover some really interesting research there!


What to do with Unused Neocate Products? You Can Donate!

Posted 7.19.16 | Nutrition Specialist

Clutter. It is something I don’t like to have around my work or living area. If you are like and have extra Neocate formula around your house (that you no longer need), you may view extra formula as “clutter” and something that you need to get rid of. But what do you do with that formula that was prescribed to you by a healthcare professional? Consider donating your unused  to someone who may be able to benefit from it!  When donating, it’s very important to ensure that the formula is not expired.  For our powdered Neocate products you can find the expiration date on the bottom of the can. If you’re looking at a drink box of Splash, you can find the expiration date on the top of the drink box. The expiration dates on the Neocate family of products follow the standard North American format, which is Month/Day/Year. 

Oley Foundation

One option is to consider donating to an organization that assists those in need that can’t afford formula. One such example is the Oley Foundation. It was started in 1983 and “strives to enrich the lives of those living with home intravenous nutrition and tube feeding through education, advocacy, and networking”.

The Oley Foundation has an Equipment/Supply Exchange Program to connect families in need of enteral formula, pumps, tubing and other supplies with families who have items to donate. Note that items are for donation only and there may be costs associated with shipping the formula. In general, it is the responsibility of the individual receiving the formula to pay for the shipping costs. Procedures for donating to Oley Foundation.

The Parker Lee Project

This is another organization you might want to consider when donating unused formula that is based in Texas. Parker Lee Project was started by Megan & Phillip Smith after they had first-hand experience if struggling, arguing and pleading with offices, insurance companies, and DME companies for various supplies for their daughter.

The Parker Lee Project accepts all unused unopened supplise (except Suction Supplies) and all gently used equipment (as long as it hasn't been molded to fit your child specifically). View their website on various ways to connect.

The Hovannesian Feeding Foundation

This foundation was started by Hovannesian family after welcoming into their family daughter born with Kabuki Syndrome.  The organizations collects items to redistribute to families that have to pay out of pocket despite having insurance.  

Additional Resources

You can always call your local pediatric gastroenterologist office or a local Children's Hospital to ask if they accept donations for people whose insurance won't cover it. Additionally, you can find other family support groups via the following pages:

If you know of a resource that accepts donations of Neocate products that you would like to share with our community, please don’t hesitate to comment below. You can also consult with your healthcare professional for other options on donating your unused formula to other families that may need it.

Note, organizations listed above are not endorsed by Nutricia North America and cannot be responsible for the information they contain.

- Ellen

Ellen Sviland Avery joined the Nutricia team during the summer of 2014. She has extensive experience in pediatrics, metabolics and tube feeding. Prior to coming to Nutricia, she worked in home infusion. She has been a registered dietitian for more than 12 years. Her passion in pediatric nutrition started when she was in Birmingham working with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and has continued throughout her career.


3 Tips to Prepare for Summer Camp with Food Allergies

Posted 7.14.16 | Nutrition Specialist

School is out and summer is here!  For a lot of families that means vacations and summer camps. Do you need help making sure your child’s allergies stay in check over the summer?  We can help! Preparation is important when sending kids with food allergies away to camp, on vacations, or to stay with relatives.  But how can you prepare?

Research

First, find out if the summer camp your child will be attending has a policy on food allergies. Additional questions to help with your research:

  • Does the camp allow other children to pack lunches/snacks which contain possible food allergens like peanuts, nuts and/or milk products?  If so, is there a designated area for allergic children to eat their snacks and lunches? 
  • What kind of staff will your child have access to? Is there a healthcare professional on site? What are their credentials and responsibilities?
  • What are the procedures for emergencies? How far away is the camp from a hospital or a medical treatment center?
  • What activities will the camp provide during your child’s stay?  Is there elevated potential for exposure to known allergens?
  • Is there a dedicated place where allergen-free snacks are stored?
  • For some information on allergy-friendly camps, or camps that are aware of how to manage allergies:
  • FARE: List of Food Allergy-Friendly Camps
  • GoDairyFree.com: Summer Camp Options for Food Allergic, Gluten-Free and Vegan Kids

Additionally, check-out the following recording of a webinar featuring Dr. Pistiner and Ms. Polmear-Swendris answering questions about how to choose a camp, what questions to ask of summer camp staff, how to store epinephrine at camp, and a review of basic food allergy management.

Advocate

Once you have decided upon your camp of choice, the next step is to advocate for your child. Notify everybody about your child’s allergies: the camp director, counselors, subs (if you have access to them), even insist the camp lifeguard is aware.  If the camp you chose to attend does not have an allergy policy in place, help educate organizers on how to keep your child safe.  First, help camp counselors and administrators understand your child’s allergy.  Don’t assume they have all the facts. Second, tell them how to handle any possible exposure and give them your emergency care plan (this is a perfect time to share an allergy card you can create using the Neocate Footsteps App).  Here’s another helpful link that you can use to help staff members prepare: PDF Example of FARE Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan

Educate

Finally, one of the best ways to prepare is to talk to your child about their food allergies.  If your child is old enough to understand their allergy, they can be the first line of defense against an accidental exposure.  Help them recognize their symptoms and how to alert staff members for help.  Have your child label their lunch and snack; reiterating the importance of not sharing foods and/or drinks with other campers. 

Educate your child on how to properly manage food allergies at camp and ensure that they are aware of:

  • Green light and red light (or safe and unsafe) foods
  • Strategies for avoiding exposure to allergens (i.e. NEVER trade food with other campers)
  • Symptoms of allergic reactions (i.e. NOT to go off alone if symptoms are beginning);
  • How and when to tell an adult about a possible allergic response
  • How to read a food label (if your child is younger, plan with the camp how to handle this)
  • How to use epinephrine 

If you are sending your little toddler to their first camp, use the following link to read 3 Easy Steps for Success when Explaining Food Allergies to your Toddler.

And finally, have them wear a medical alert bracelet.   There are many options available for bracelets, including waterproof ones, perfect for summer!

Keep in mind, getting ready for camp can be similar to how you get ready for a new school year or traveling.   If you need additional tips on how to specifically travel this summer with Neocate, make sure to check-out Helpful Tips and Resources when Traveling with Food Allergies.

We hope these tips will help make this summer a fun and exciting experience for your children; a summer they will never forget while staying healthy and safe!  Do you have any other tips or suggestions to share?  We would love to hear from you!


Meet Some Awesome Neocate Families!

Posted 7.12.16 | Nutrition Specialist

In March of this year we at Nutricia had the great privilege to meet with three wonderful families that are using various Neocate products to manage their cow milk and multiple food allergies. We were delighted to hear about their unique stories, about the ups and downs in their allergy journeys, both the tears and the laughter and ultimately about how all their experiences have made them stronger!

One topic we talked about with the families was the areas of support that they felt were the most important to them. They also told us how more information and more unique support could be made available for everyone that is dealing with a food allergy. But hear for yourself what they shared with us!

We would like to thank the families involved for their time, their energy and their wonderful stories. We will be posting more updates in the future. In the meantime, if you have a story that you would like to share about food allergy, cow milk allergy, Neocate or anything related you can get in touch with us by commenting below!

  


Cow Milk Allergy – It’s More Than Just Blood in Stool

Posted 6.14.16 | Nutrition Specialist

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc (FARE), approximately 2.5% of children younger than 3 years of age are allergic to cow milk. Most of these infants and children will outgrow their cow milk allergy, while some may not.

How Do I Know if My Child is Allergic to Cow Milk?

Blood in a child’s stool can be a sign of an allergy to cow milk, and it's one that you may have heard about, or that your healthcare team may have shared with you. But what are some other signs that your child might be allergic to cow milk?

The following infographic highlights eight common signs and symptoms of a cow milk allergy (CMA), while also providing tips on what parents should look for and next steps if children are exhibiting signs of CMA.

Difference Between Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergy

Now that we've reviewed common CMA signs and symptoms, you might be wondering, What is the difference between CMA and lactose intolerance? The following video from Dr. Adam Fox helps to explain the difference:

Dr. Adam Fox

Common Signs and symptoms of a Cow Milk Allergy

These signs or symptoms may take anywhere from minutes to hours to days until they appear.

  • Skin Rash/Itchy Skin/Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme fussiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive Gas
  • Wheezing, coughing or other respiratory symptoms

Now, let’s talk about each of these signs in further detail.

Skin Rash/Itchy Skin/Hives

There are many causes of rashes in infants and children. Some are viral, others are due to something in the environment, but some may be due to the food that your child is consuming if he or she has an allergy. If hives develop right after your child has consumed food, it may warrant further investigation into food allergies. The skin around the mouth may be especially itchy if your child has certain food allergies. Note where the rash is and if it seems to bother your child. Remember that old saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”. If a rash appears on your child, don’t forget to take a picture and show it to your doctor. If you would like to keep a diary of all the symptoms your child is exhibiting and what she consumed, make sure to check-out the Neocate Footsteps App.

Vomiting

Some babies spit-up after eating if they eat too much, too quickly or a combination of both. They may also vomit due to an illness. By keeping track of your child’s vomiting, it may help to determine if cow milk is the cause of her vomiting.

Extreme Fussiness

The definition of colic applies to healthy, well-fed infants who cry more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks. Even though these criteria exist, colic is not well defined. The crying and fussiness that we call colic could mean that they are experiencing extreme abdominal pain, and cow milk may be the cause. Investigate extreme fussiness with your pediatrician to determine if there is a change in your child’s diet that may help.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea (and other gastrointestinal symptoms) may be due to the foods your child eats or to an illness. It is important to note when the diarrhea starts and how long it lasts. If diarrhea continues more than 2-4 times per day for more than 5-7 days, it may be a sign of a cow milk allergy. It is also important to note if there is mucus and/or blood in the stool, as these can also indicate a cow milk allergy.

Excessive Gas

Babies can be gassy as their gastrointestinal tracts get used to foods they are consuming. If your child seems excessively gassy and it has a foul odor, it may be a sign of a cow milk allergy, especially when it is in combination with some of these other symptoms.

Wheezing, coughing or other respiratory symptoms

Respiratory symptoms may be a more serious sign of a cow milk allergy and should be taken seriously if you suspect your child has more than a cold. These include wheezing and coughing. If your child starts wheezing or has other respiratory problems after consuming cow milk-containing foods, seek medical attention. More severe than other respiratory symptoms is anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

It is best to talk with your healthcare provider if you suspect a food allergy, and keep track of the symptoms with a food diary to help determine what the food allergen may be. The Neocate® Footsteps App can help you keep track of some of these symptoms and allows you to take pictures, if need be, of any skin rashes or other reactions.

Management of a Cow Milk Allergy

If your child is allergic to cow milk, your doctor may recommend a hypoallergenic formula like Neocate to help meet your child’s nutritional needs. Neocate products are available for children of all ages for the dietary management of a cow milk allergy. Just like you'd expect, Neocate is dairy-free! Learn more about available Neocate products.

Can You Outgrow a Milk Allergy?

Most infants and children eventually outgrow a cow milk allergy. However there is no specific age by which this will happen. Each child is unique. Over the years, research has shown that most children will outgrow a cow milk allergy within a few years. For more severe cow milk allergies, research has shown it can take longer. For example, some researchers found that 80% of chidlren they followed with CMA outgrew their allergy by 16 years of age. Read more.

These are just some of the signs and symptoms of a cow milk allergy with a couple frequently asked questions we encounter. When it comes to cow milk allergy, what other questions do you have that we can address in our future posts?

-Ellen


National FPIES Day 2016

Posted 5.3.16 | Nutrition Specialist


The one day of the year a pie to the face is a GOOD thing! 

Got your attention? Good! Because May 4th is National FPIES Day! We wanted to share a few facts about FPIES and tell you about National FPIES Day, ways that you can get involved, and some organizations that help to raise awareness and support for FPIES.

FPIES

FPIES stands for Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. This is a rare form of food allergy that is gaining awareness. FPIES affects infants and young children primarily, can take a long time to be recognized and diagnosed, and can mean very significant dietary restrictions. Want more details?

National FPIES Day

What better way to raise awareness for a condition than with a dedicated day? We can’t think of one! In 2015, the United States Senate designated May 4th as National FPIES Awareness Day! This resulted from efforts from the International FPIES Association (I-FPIES, more on them below) and over 1,000 supporters.

Raising awareness of FPIES can help highlight the disorder on behalf of affected children and adults. Together, we can make diagnosis and treatment – and life in general - easier for FPIES children and families.

Every day is a good day to raise awareness about FPIES, but National FPIES Awareness Day is probably the best day. Here are some ways that you can help to raise awareness and spread the word:

  • Change your Facebook or Twitter profile picture to the official event logo, available from I-FPIES, the FPIES awareness ribbon:

 

  • Share your personal FPIES story, photos, and words of encouragement on social media
  • Use the hashtags #NationalFPIESDay and #FPIESontheRise
  • Donate in honor of someone you know with FPIES to an organization dedicated to creating a better tomorrow for those living with FPIES (more below)

Pies in the face for FPIES 

We saved our favorite awareness-raising idea for last: Pies in the face challenge for FPIES! This genius idea came from I-FPIES, and we personally can’t wait to pie our coworkers (to help raise awareness, of course!). Read more here, but here’s the low-down:

  1. Post a video of yourself being "pied" on the I-FPIES Facebook page or using the hashtag #pieface4fpies
  2. In your video, make sure to:
  • State why you are doing this: to raise money and awareness for FPIES and for National FPIES Awareness Day on May 4th.
  • Name who you are honoring with this challenge.
  • Refer to fpies.org to learn more about FPIES.
  1. Make a donation to help fund initiatives that make a difference in the lives of FPIES patients and families.
  2. Get family, friends and others involved! Nominate 4 more people to complete the challenge in 48 hours!

I-FPIES – The International FPIES Association

I-FPIES, founded by a mom who had a very personal experience with FPIES, is a nonprofit organization that provides education, support, and advocacy for individuals with FPIES and their families. I-FPIES partners with leaders in the medical community to develop evidence-based research, with a focus on early detection and new treatment options. Ultimately, I-FPIES represents families and medical professionals united by a common focus: finding a cause and a cure for FPIES. Learn more about I-FPIES here, including how you can help to support this great organization.

The FPIES Foundation

The FPIES Foundation is a collaborative effort of several families affected by FPIES who want to help other families find their way. The FPIES Foundation is committed to providing support resource to families to make their everyday lives easier. Learn more about The FPIES foundation and view their resources here.

Gee, we should have an FPIES conference!

Wouldn’t it be great if a national conference for FPIES took place the same week as National FPIES Awareness Day? We’ve got news for you: there is one, and it does! If you have a loved one with FPIES, there's still time…

The 2016 FPIES Education Conference takes place later this week, on May 7, in the great city of Chicago. Presented by I-FPIES, the conference brings together parents and caregivers to share experiences and learn the latest about FPIES from leading researchers and healthcare professionals. Read more about this great event here.

How will you help promote and raise awareness of FPIES this year?

-Rob McCandlish, RDN


Neocate Mixing & Storage Questions Answered – Round 2

Posted 4.28.16 | Nutrition Specialist

When it comes to mixing and storing formula, we’ve heard every question, usually more than once! A few months ago, we answered questions about mixing and storing Neocate products. This post was so popular that it helped spark additional questions from our Facebook followers as well as comments posted on our blog.

So here we go, Round 2!

Once Neocate formulas are prepared, how long until they go bad? Can I keep them longer in the fridge?

The important thing to remember is that our recommendations help to make sure that Neocate stays fresh and that it doesn’t have time to “go bad.” (Good Neocate is a nice guy; Bad Neocate is just plain mean!) “Going bad” is a nice way of saying that a food or formula sat around too long, and bacteria showed up and multiplied! This can make food or formula taste bad, smell bad, and possibly make you sick. Here’s a breakdown of the times we recommend:

24 hours – This is the amount of time that prepared Neocate powdered formulas can stay in the fridge, IF you put them in right after mixing. This also applies to Neocate Splash that’s been opened, but not if anyone has taken a drink directly from the container! If Neocate has been in the fridge longer than 24 hours, we recommend throwing it out.

4 hours – This is the amount of time that prepared Neocate powdered formulas (or opened or poured Neocate Splash) can sit out at room temperature. This can be either after being freshly mixed, or after being removed from the fridge. If it’s been on the counter at room temperature longer than 4 hours, throw it out!

1 hour – This is the amount of time that Neocate can be kept after someone starts to drink it. Like it or not, our mouths are full of bacteria that just love nutrient-rich formulas like Neocate. Once your baby, child, or you take a drink, start the clock and throw out what’s left after 1 hour. Safety first!

Can I make Neocate in advance and use it at a later time?

Sure! As long as you follow the rules above for storage times, you can prepare Neocate formulas in advance. We always recommend that freshly prepared formula is best, but we know it’s not always easy to mix it exactly when you need it. For further guidance, check with your healthcare team!

Note: We don’t recommend preparing Neocate Nutra - our hypoallergenic semi-solid - in advance, because the texture will actually become thicker over time AND thicker with refrigeration. However, the storage instructions for Neocate Nutra would be the same as for the Neocate formulas if your healthcare team is okay with the thicker texture.

 

Once I’ve mixed Neocate to store for later, do I put it straight into the fridge or do I need to cool it down first?

It’s best to cool the prepared Neocate quickly to get it below the “danger zone” at which bacteria grow best. Straight into the fridge for a bottle is fine, regardless of the water temperature used. That’s because small items will cool quickly in a fridge. However, if you mix a large volume of Neocate, such as for a full day, and store it in a large container, it will cool pretty slowly in the fridge. Here are two options:

  1. Use cold water to prepare the Neocate, so it doesn’t have much cooling to do.
  2. If you prepare the Neocate formula with warm or room temperature water, start by pouring it into the container you’ll store it in. Put the lid on. Then fill a large bowl or pot with ice water. Nestle the container with Neocate in the ice water. Rotate it every few minutes. This will cool it down quicker than the cold air in the refrigerator would. After about 20-30 minutes, it should be plenty cold, and you can move it to the fridge.

It’s important to note not to use hot water when mixing your formula.
(See what temperature water should be when used to mix Neocate formulas.)

What temperature should the fridge be when storing Neocate?

Ooh, good question! We actually don’t get this one very often. For storing anything perishable (food, leftovers, prepared Neocate, you name it), a refrigerator should maintain a temperature below 40° F (4° C).

Did you know that some spots in your refrigerator are colder than others? It’s true! In general, the door is the warmest part of the fridge. The coldest parts can vary based on the layout of the fridge (i.e. where the freezer and icemaker are).

Want a surefire way to know if your fridge is cold enough? Take it’s temperature! Place a cup of water in the fridge, add a thermometer, and wait a few hours. You can even move it around to different parts of the fridge to see the differences – just make sure you give the water a few hours to adjust to the new “climate.”

What is the best temperature for storing Neocate Splash? Can Neocate Splash drink boxes be stored in the refrigerator?

The best temperature for storing unopened Neocate Splash long term is room temperature. That’s because some nutrients don’t hold up well under heat, and some don’t do well in cold. So keep Neocate Splash away from sunny windows, air vents, hot appliances, and cold, drafty spaces. That goes for unopened cans of other Neocate products, too!

That said, you can put unopened Neocate Splash in the refrigerator ahead of time to cool down, such as for tomorrow’s lunch box. If it hasn’t been opened, we suggest you can keep it refrigerated for up to a week. This is because we just don’t know the effects that cold (but not freezing) temperatures over extended periods of time might have on levels of some nutrients. Remember though: If the drink box is open, it can only be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, but no more. And if someone has already taken a drink from the box, you’ve got 1 hour!

How should I prepare Neocate when going on a trip?

Ooh, you’re going on a trip? Where? Can we come? No, seriously, you don’t have to bring us with you, but feel free to share a picture of you traveling with Neocate on our Facebook or Instagram!

When you are going on a trip with prepared Neocate formula, follow these rules:

  • Mix no more Neocate formula than you need in 24 hours - otherwise you’ll have to toss what's left!
  • Keep it cold – below 40° F (4° C) – and store it for no more than 24 hours. That means you’ll need a well-insulated cooler and plenty of cold freezer packs or bags of ice.
  • If you use powdered Neocate formula, take extra cans, just in case.
  • If you use Neocate Splash, take extra drink boxes, just in case.
  • If you use Neocate Splash, keep unopened drink boxes away from extreme temperatures. That means don’t throw it in the trunk in the extreme heat of summer or bitter cold of winter for long periods of time, like road trips.
  • Check out this post about flying with Neocate for more helpful tips.

Can you store Neocate frozen?

We don’t recommend it. Why, you ask? Plenty of other foods can be kept safely in the freezer longer than they can in the fridge, so why not Neocate? The short answer to this question is: we don’t know. Okay, that’s not a very fair answer, and it’s not the whole truth! The mid-range answer is that freezing temperatures can affect Neocate’s quality in ways we can’t predict. Still want more information, or don’t believe us? Here goes…

Freezing temperatures (below 32° F, or 0° C) can affect some nutrient levels. Some vitamins just don’t hold up well under really cold temperatures, and home freezers can actually get very cold! Also, frozen Neocate that thaws may discolor and/or separate into different layers. Gray Neocate in layers is not appealing! We cannot guarantee nutrient content or quality of Neocate products when frozen, which is why we don’t recommend it.

That said, some recipes that call for Neocate products are frozen, and frozen treats can be downright delicious. Ask your healthcare team for advice before you prepare Neocate in any of these recipes, or any way other than as directed on the packaging or as we suggest above. Find more information about cooking with Neocate here.

Can I still use Neocate past the expiration date?

Nope! We absolutely don’t budge on this one. If you don’t like this simple, straightforward answer, you can read this post that spells out in detail why we can’t recommend using Neocate past the expiration date.

How do I ensure Neocate dissolves properly?

Like any powdered formulas, sometimes clogged nipples happen. Following these steps can help ensure that Neocate formulas dissolve well:

  • In general, the warmer the water, the better the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in Neocate powders will dissolve.
  • The warmest water you should use is 122° F (50° C) to ensure the nutrient levels are not affected. (Water that temperature is pretty warm, but not uncomfortbly hot is our best description without pulling out a thermometer)
  • DO NOT use boiling water to prepare Neocate powders. While Neocate powders dissolve REALLY well in boiling water, it destroys a lot of important nutrients.
  • Stir or shake vigorously for the best solubility.
  • You can try allowing formula freshly mixed to "rest" for a few minutes and then give it another vigorous stir or shake.
  • If you still have trouble after trying the above tips, give us a call at 800.Neocate to let us know!

Again, if we didn’t answer your question, check this post with other common questions to see if we cover it there. If not, we’re happy to help in the comments section below! What other questions do you have about mixing, preparing, serving, or storing Neocate?

-Rob

You can trust me! I've worked at Nutricia as part of the Medical Affairs team since 2010! My job is answering Neocate questions, and if I don't know the answer to your question, I know where to get it! I'm also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.


Why Neocate Dropped the Soy Oil

Posted 1.17.16 | Nutrition Specialist


Loads of parents and caregivers, and even some healthcare professionals, contact us asking about the various ingredients in our Neocate products. Here are some common questions we receive:

  • Why do you include ___ as an ingredient? (It provides nutrition is almost always the answer.)
  • Does Neocate use GMOs? (Nope!)
  • Do Neocate products contain soy? (No way!)   

That last question is one of my favorites, because our answer is so unique. Many of you may be aware that a lot of infants with a cow milk allergy also are allergic to soy. This is sometimes termed milk soy protein intolerance (MSPI). For many, many years Neocate families have asked us over and over if we could remove the soy oil from Neocate Infant. They told us that, while the medical community told them soy oil was okay, they were still wary. On top of requests from parents, some healthcare professionals also asked us if it would be possible to remove soy oil (more on that below). I'll tell you the history behind removing soy oil from Neocate Infant, and I'll also try to answer some questions from a medical perspective about soy oil for those with a soy allergy.

Why did Neocate use soy oil in the past?

For about 20 years, Neocate Infant products in the United States contained soy oil. The oil was very highly refined, and the refining process is designed to remove all of the protein, which is the part of food that the body responds to in an allergic reaction. The soy oil was essential because it provides special types of fats that human infants need to get from their diet. If a baby can't breast feed and drinks formula instead, the formula is required by law to contain these essential fats.  For many years, soy oil was really the only good source of essential fat that was also permitted for infant formulas. In fact, every infant formula in the United States uses soy oil to provide essential fats.

What changed?

I mentioned that Neocate Infant used soy oil, but other Neocate products for older children did not. That's because those products contain canola oil as a source of essential fat instead of soy oil. Canola oil is an excellent source of essential fat, and can be used in foods for children and older people in the US, but had not been able to be used for infant formulas. You know what's really weird? Neocate Infant products in other countries used canola oil instead of soy oil for years! 

At Nutricia, we thought it would be great if canola oil were suitable for use in Neocate Infant too, but there has to be a lot of evidence for the ingredients that can be used in infant formulas, and the evidence has to be given to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Basically, nobody had ever told the FDA that they would like to use canola oil in an infant formula as a source of essential fat. We decided that we wanted to do what we could to replace the soy oil with canola oil in Neocate Infant, because it was important to our customers. This involved working with experts and compiling loads of research and information to provide the FDA to support the safety of canola oil.

Ultimately, we were able to provide the FDA with the available research and with answers to all of their questions. Based on the long history of safe use in other countries and the fact that canola oil is a great source of essential fats, we were able to remove the soy oil in Neocate Infant DHA/ARA! In 2013, we finally launched an improved version of Neocate Infant DHA/ARA. Among other nutritional improvements, soy oil was not in the formula. The formula contained canola oil instead, and had higher levels of essential fats.

What does the medical community say?

As I mentioned above, soy oil is recognized by the medical community as being suitable for patients with soy allergies. The soy oil used in infant formulas is highly refined, whereas some grocery oils labeled "cold pressed" or "unfiltered" are not. Professional allergy organizations have published guidance for allergic patients indicating that refined soy oil is acceptable for most patients. In fact, the FDA exempts highly refined soy oil from being labeled as an allergen, due to the available research indicating safety.

Despite this, many healthcare professionals told us that it is confusing for families who find it easy to avoid products with "soy" on the label. They informed us that many families are inherently suspicious of infant formulas that contain soy oil if their infant has a soy allergy. It can be very difficult for healthcare teams to reassure parents that the soy oil used in infant formulas is "safe" for an infant with a soy protein allergy, especially if the family has been through many allergy symptoms and unsuccessful formula switches. Families want the greatest assurance possible that a formula is "safe." 

Many healthcare professionals have thanked us for removing soy oil from Neocate Infant. They know that the soy oil was safe, but felt it would be much easier to provide a parent with an infant formula that didn't contain any ingredients derived from soy, regardless of the inherent safety of the ingredient. The fact that the improved Neocate Infant formula contained higher levels of essential fats was an added nutritional bonus. To this day, Neocate Infant is the only infant formula available in the U.S. that does not contain soy oil. We feel it was worth the time and effort to remove soy oil from Neocate Infant, and we're glad to say that there is no soy oil in the entire Neocate product line.

Do you find it reassuring that Neocate products do not contain soy oil?

-Rob

Image source

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Is Your Stress Impacting Your Family? Importance of Caregivers Managing Personal Stress

Posted 1.14.16 | Irina Kabigting

As parents and caregivers, we might not always make ourselves a priority. Daily pressures can add up, causing us to stress out.  When you do start to stress out, are you able to not only recognize it, but also take steps to de-stress?

A New Year signals a new beginning, so in 2016, let’s slow down and take a look internally at what we can do to understand and lower the levels of stress we experience.

What is Stress?

Stress is your body's way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When we are stressed, our bodies release chemicals that signal us to react.

Good stress on our body, to a point, increases productivity. However, negative stress can cause the opposite effect on our bodies. In essence, we have a breaking point after which our bodies start to signal that it’s time to pull back and relax:

The Human Function Curve

(Photo Credit: Elon.edu)

 

What Causes Stress?

Stress can be brought on for a number of reasons. It’s also important to note that some instances might impact you much more than the person next to you and vice versa.  For example, think about that popular ride at the amusement park. You might freak out and be scared to death about going on a ride. Your palms might sweat, your heartbeat might start spiking and maybe even your breathing becomes intense. However, your friend might be excited, laughing and having the time of his life going on the same ride. Same stimulant, different reaction.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association identified the most common causes of stress in Americans. Between 2007-2010, the top three causes of stress were money, work and the economy.

Causes of Stress

(Photo Credit: American Psychological Association)

Why Should You Care?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is estimated that up to 75 percent of all visits to physician’s offices are stress-related. There are some studies that are starting to look at the potential relationship between stress and increased susceptibility to infections and various other diseases. There’s already evidence that caring for children with food allergies can cause parents to miss more work and experience more financial stress. Ongoing research is finding that family quality of life may be affected by food allergies.

Scary right…

Our stress as parents and caregivers doesn’t just impact us alone. As a caretaker, we have to be cognizant of the impact stress can have on our families as well.

The same study from the American Psychological Association quantified the impact of the stress we feel as parents, on our children. The study showed that younger children tend to feel more worried and frustrated when their parents are stressed out.

Impact of Stress on Children

Additionally, more parents than nonparents say they are not doing enough to manage their stress (31 percent vs. 20 percent). Parents are more likely than nonparents to report engaging in unhealthy stress management techniques, such as drinking alcohol (18 percent vs. 12 percent) and smoking (17 percent vs. 10 percent).

Such staggering data show how important it is to take the time to take care of yourself, not only for you, but also for your family.

Signs of Stress

The first step in managing your stress is to learn the signs of stress so that you can recognize when you need some “you time.”

There are many signs of stress. They can be mental and/or physical. Here is a list of potential stress-related signs our bodies might feel one or combination of the following:

  • Irritability/Anger
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest, motivation or energy
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Headache
  • Feeling depressed or sad
  • Feeling as through you could cry
  • Upset Stomach or indigestion
  • Muscular tension
  • Change in Appetite
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Teeth grinding
  • Change in sex drive
  • Tightness in chest
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • Increased heartbeat and faster breathing
  • Increased perspiration
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Other
  • Nothing

What Can You Do About Stress?

There are numerous resources and techniques available for managing stress. Later on this month, we will devote a blog post to diving a bit deeper into stress management techniques, so stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, take an honest look at your surroundings and think about your stress triggers. What is stressing you out? How do you currently deal with stress? Is it a healthy approach? Is there anything you can do about the sources of your stress?

If you need more ideas today, check out this list of 13 Tips to Ease Stress, provided by WebMd.

What stress management techniques work best for you? Share below; it might help another caretaker just like you.


Upcycling Neocate Cans

Posted 12.15.15 | Nutrition Specialist

We've written before about recycling Neocate cans as well as recycling Neocate lids and scoops. We've also shared some ideas for getting creative with Neocate cans in arts and crafts. But have you ever considered "upcycling" Neocate cans at the holidays? We got this idea from an EoE family that we met at the annual APFED patient conference. They told us that money was tight one year, so they found ways to reuse the many Neocate cans they had lying around. We love the idea!

First, what is upcycling?

The term "upcycling" describes reusing a product or material that you would otherwise discard or recycle. To be more specific, upcycling means reusing the product in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original product. Upcycling is considered to be a step above recycling from an environmental perspective. For example, you might be familiar with all of the creative ideas that have come up in recent months for reusing Mason jars. Those are examples of upcycling! So how can you upcycle Neocate cans at the holidays?

Turn Neocate cans into gift containers

Who needs boxes and wrapping paper or expensive gift bags when you can do something really creative? As long as your gift will fit inside, you can make a great gift container with a Neocate can. See this post and swap the called-for coffee can for a Neocate can. Pretty cool, especially with the gold lid! Invite your family members to see who can make the most festive gift container, or who can get most creative.

Turn Neocate cans into gifts

What could be better than a handmade gift for someone you care about? We'll take handmade gifts over storebought merchandise any day! The possibilities with Neocate cans are almost endless. See a previous post for ideas to turn Neocate cans into musical instruments, containers for plants, or even a piggy bank. The plant container idea could be especially great when you're trying to think of something nice to do for your neighbors.

Turn Neocate cans into decorations

If you're like us, you use the same holiday decorations year after year. For a change of scenery this season, how about turning a Neocate can into a nice holiday gift basket to hold baked goods or goodies when giving gifts? For a fun family activity, how about a holiday time capsule with notes and pictures to open next year, or even in another 5 years? You can also turn a single Neocate can into a decorative can to hold greenery as a centerpiece. If you have several cans and really want to create a masterpiece, turn a stack of cans into a snowman with a top hat.

What great suggestions does your family have for upcycling leftover Neocate cans?

-Rob

Image from The Evolution of Mom



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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.