Your child’s body has a number of tools to fight off infection. One of these tools is a type of white blood cell called an eosinophil. Eosinophils are normally located throughout the digestive system, where they do their job quite well.
Unfortunately, certain types of allergens, can provoke such a serious allergic reaction that they can draw large amounts of eosinphils into your child’s esophagus, where they do not belong. This is called eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). EoE is a complex condition, and that can make it a challenge to get an accurate diagnosis.
EoE is often mistaken for GERD because of some similar symptoms. Most children with eosinophilic esophagitis have diagnosed multiple food allergies, including milk and soy.
EoE symptoms vary from one child to the next and can differ depending on age. Symptoms may include vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux, nausea, food aversion, difficulty swallowing, growth failure or chest and abdominal pain.
When EoE is diagnosed, nutritional therapy is a highly effective option. Research has shown a 95–98% success rate (therapeutic reduction of eosinophils in the esophagus and of symptoms) with nutritional therapy.1,2,3
There are different options for EoE nutritional therapy: an elemental diet, elimination diet, or a combination of the two.
Watch Gus the Esophagus video and learn more about EoE.
An elemental diet removes all whole proteins from your child’s diet and replaces them with elemental nutrition such as Neocate. Neocate is based on free amino acids, the building blocks of protein, so it’s easier for infants and children to digest. Neocate has neither whole nor fragmented protein chains that can trigger an allergic response.
In a common elimination diet, you remove all offending proteins from your child’s diet with the help of allergy tests. To ensure all nutrient needs are being met on the elimination diet, your doctor or dietitian may also suggest using a formula like Neocate as a supplement to provide complete nutrition for growth and development.
Within time and under the direction of your doctor, foods may be slowly reintroduced to the diet to see if they cause allergic symptoms.
Neocate offers a variety of products that can be helpful for young and older children with EoE. Consider Neocate E028 Splash, which provides balanced nutrition your child needs in a variety of tasty flavors and in convenient ready-to-go drink boxes. Neocate Nutra can also be used as a supplement for children experiencing feeding difficulties. Because of its spoonable consistency, it is a great tool for adding texture and variety into the diet. More information on EoE can be found in our EoE parent guide and our Food Allergy Living blog.
Nutritional therapy must be under the direction and supervision of a health care professional.
1. Liacouras et al. Eosinophilic esophagitis: A 10-year experience in 381 children. Gastroenterol & Hepatol 2005; 3:1198-1206.
2. Markowitz JE et al. Elemental diet is an effective treatment for eosinophilic esophagitis in children and adolescents. Am J Gastroenterology 2003; 98:777-782.
3. Kelly KJ et al. Eosinophilic esophagitis attributed to gastroesophageal reflux: Improvement with an amino acid-based formula. Gastroenterology 1995; 109:1503-151.