Food Allergy Living Blog

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Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy?

Posted 1.28.08 | Nutrition Specialist

Hi Folks! One of you left a comment a few blogs back about how so many people confuse lactose intolerance and milk allergy. Which is a very good point! So, here’s a helpful little chart to distinguish between the two.

Of course, to find out for sure, check with the pediatrician. And can help you prepare to talk to the doc if you suspect your child might have a milk allergy.
Be Well,
Dr. Y

All About Eczema

Posted 1.18.08 | Nutrition Specialist

I get a lot of calls from parents regarding their babies’ skin rashes and unfortunately, by the time a parent calls me, the baby has been suffering for quite a while. Eczema has so many triggers that most people don’t think a food allergy could be the culprit.

Here is a review of the basics of eczema…

What is eczema?

It is most often characterized by dry, red, extremely itchy patches on the skin. Eczema is sometimes referred to as "the itch that rashes," since the itch, when scratched, results in the appearance of the rash.

Who is suffering from eczema?

10-20% of babies

What triggers eczema?

Environmental Triggers

  • Wool and other scratchy fabrics
  • Chronic, extremely dry air
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Chemicals in certain soaps and detergents
Allergen Triggers
These substances provoke an overreaction of the immune system and cause the skin to become inflamed.The baby won’t stop scratching…what’s a parent to do?
1. Take your baby to the doctor to determine what is causing the rash. Make sure the pediatrician considers all potential allergens, including common foods allergens like milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, fish and tree nuts.
2. Remove the trigger from your baby’s life. This may mean changing detergent, purchasing dust-proof mattress covers or sending the family pet outside. It may also mean changing your baby’s diet. If you are breastfeeding, remove all the allergens from your diet. If you are feeding your baby a cow’s milk- or soy-based formula, you’ll want to switch to a hypoallergenic amino acid-based formula like Neocate.
3. Heal your baby’s damaged skin. Work with the pediatrician to develop a daily skin care routine that will help heal your baby’s skin, which has been damaged by the allergic reaction and your baby’s scratching.
Here are some likely recommendations:
  • Bathe your baby in soothing lukewarm water
  • Use a milk soap or non-soap cleanser
  • Avoid bath oils and perfumed powders
  • Apply an over-the-counter lubricant to her skin (Talk to the doctor for specific brand recommendations)
  • Keep her fingernails filed short so the scratching won’t do as much damage
  • Dress her in soft cotton fabrics to prevent possible fabric irritation
  • Keep her cool and avoid hot, humid environments
  • Try to distract her from the itchiness with fun activities
If the skin becomes infected, call the doctor right away. He or she might prescribe an antibiotic for you to either apply to your baby’s damaged skin or give her by mouth.
For even more information on eczema, check out the skin rash section of Act Against Allergy.
  • Food allergens: cow’s milk, soy, wheat, eggs
  • Household dust and mites
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Dog or cat dander

What About the Littlest Ones? Recognizing Food Allergies in Babies

Posted 1.15.08 | Nutrition Specialist

I read this article by Jessica Snyder Sachs a few days ago in Parenting magazine. I think it’s a great article with a focus on how to prevent allergies in school-age children. It’s definitely worth checking out, but I do wish she had included some information on food allergies in babies.Food Allergies are scary for any parent, but they can be even scarier when your child is too young to tell you what’s wrong.

And pinpointing allergies in babies can be extremely tricky. While some infants can have anaphylactic reactions, most of the time babies’ symptoms look like typical baby ailments.

Note: I don’t want to dismiss the severity of a baby having an anaphylactic reaction – it’s serious and terrifying. But it occurs less often than the type of symptoms we’re talking about here. (Perhaps thanks to the food allergy community’s efforts to inform docs and moms about precautions to take during pregnancy and baby’s first few years of life.)

Here are the most common symptoms to look out for in your baby if you suspect the little one has a food allergy:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Blood and/or mucus in the stool
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Respiratory problems
  • Inconsolable crying (“colicky”)
  • Poor weight gain
  • An overall failure to thrive

Babies can have a combination of several of these symptoms or sometimes just one. If you think your baby could possibly have an allergy, check out It’s a great resource to help parents figure out what steps to take next. As always, I’d love to see your comments below.

Take care,

Eosinophilic Esophagitis 101

Posted 1.11.08 | Nutrition Specialist

Hello Readers,

Last week, The Journal News, a newspaper in White Plains, NY ran an interesting story about a little girl who “can not eat food.” Three-year-old Hannah Devane has a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis(EE). It’s a very serious condition and many people don’t realize that food allergy is actually the principle cause of EE.

The story focused on the Devane family’s difficulty getting their insurance company to pay for the amino acid-based formula Hannah needs – which is really a shame. But discussion on the Journal News message board and on The Consumerist blog also showed me that there is a lot of confusion about EE. So, I thought I’d clear a few things up here.

  • Kids with EE are allergic to the protein in foods such as milk, soy, nuts, eggs, etc. so the condition really limits their food choices.
  • This allergy causes a build-up of white blood cells (eosinophils) in the esophagus which is a sign of inflammation. This inflammation causes difficulty swallowing, vomiting, regurgitation, and/or abdominal or chest pain. (The symptoms usually differ slightly for each kid.)
  • Usually, EE kids can only have a very few “safe foods.” For Hannah Devone, it is rice and pears.
  • Rice and pears alone cannot provide adequate nutrition for a 3-year-old. So, kids with EE rely on special amino acid-based medical foods (that won’t make them sick) to get the nutrition they need.
  • Medical foods are not like vitamins or supplements you buy at a health food store. They have a special FDA designation, are deemed “medically necessary” for people with certain conditions, and families must have a recommendation from a healthcare professional to order them from the pharmacy or manufacturer.
  • Some doctors do prescribe steroids for the EE symptoms so they can eat food, but steroids have not been shown to be as effective as amino acid-based medical foods and they can cause a lot of side effects.
  • For more information, check out Act Against Allergy.

Be Well,
Dr. Y

Meet The Baby Health Bloggers

Posted 1.3.08 | Nutrition Specialist

Happy New Year! As we start the new year, now seems like as good a time as ever to learn a little more about the Baby Health Bloggers.

Steven Yannicelli, RD, Ph.D
“Dr. Y” is a registered dietitian specializing in pediatrics and the director of science and education for Nutricia North America. He lives in Valencia, CA with his lovely wife and three beautiful children.

April Romano
April Romano is a nutrition specialist for Nutricia North America. She has also been a fitness instructor for the past 14 years. She lives in Germantown, MD with her wonderful husband and three cats.

Marybeth Savko
Marybeth Savko is also a nutrition specialist for Nutricia North America. She always had an interest in nutrition therapy for chronic disease states. She lives Bethesda, MD and enjoys traveling and all outdoor activities.

Any questions for our bloggers? Feel free to comment below!

Dangers of Food Allergies

Posted 12.19.07 | Nutrition Specialist

Good Morning!

My name is Marybeth Savko and, like April, I am also a nutrition specialist at Nutricia North America.

I recently read an article on that reminded me so much of the stories I hear from parents every day. In “My son's food allergies: danger every day,” CNN staffer Jo Parker recounts her story of discovering her little boy Teddy’s multiple life-threatening food allergies.

Her tale covers everything from projectile vomiting, skin rashes and elimination diet woes to allergy testing and well-meaning relatives and daycare providers who just don’t quite understand the scope of the issue.

The other two issues that really came through in her piece were 1) how parents so often blame themselves for all this and 2) the constant vigilance that having a child with a food allergy requires.

On the first topic, let me just ask all you parents out there to, please, cut yourselves a break. Food allergies are still, in many ways, mystifying conditions – even to the medical community. After all, more and more kids are affected and healthcare professionals aren’t sure why. You simply cannot agonize over what may or may not have triggered these allergies for your child. And, as at so many times in our lives, it’s always better to look forward than to look back.

The constant vigilance, though, is important. And frustrating. Who would have thought that a vaccine would contain egg? And when did the craft corner become such a mine field?

In addition to the items that Ms. Parker mentioned in her article, if you click here you’ll find a list of some of the many products that, often to our surprise, contain potential food allergens.


“Colic” or a Milk Allergy?

Posted 11.29.07 | Nutrition Specialist

Hi There!

Thanks for checking out our blog! My name is April Romano and I am a nutrition specialist for Nutricia North America.

Everyday I get calls from worried parents asking about allergies that affect babies and kids. A lot of the time the pediatrician has told the mom or dad that their baby has “colic.” The baby is usually restless, agitated and it is crying and crying for hours on end with no apparent reason.

No one knows the true “cause of colic.” But many times the baby actually has a milk allergy and that is what is causing her misery. Too often this is overlooked. But when you look at the symptoms you can understand why – many really look like just typical bumps on the road of baby-hood.

You can click here for a list of the eight most common symptoms:

If you have a “colicky” baby and some symptoms look familiar, talk to the pediatrician.

In the meantime, here’s some info on milk allergy:

Babies with a milk allergy can’t process the milk protein chains found in milk-based baby formula, which can cause gastrointestinal, skin and/or respiratory symptoms. To make the baby feel better, you can either eliminate all milk proteins from your diet if you are a nursing or replace her regular milk-based formula with an amino acid-based formula.

So, anybody out there been through this? How did you get your baby’s milk allergy diagnosed? Any lessons learned for other parents in the same boat?

I’d love to hear from you.

Take care,

Thanksgiving With Food Allergies

Posted 11.19.07 | Nutrition Specialist

Hello There Blogosphere,

My name is Steven Yannicelli (Dr. Y) and the word "blogosphere" is relatively new to my vocabulary. But, thanks to a little nudging by my friends and colleagues, here I am writing my very first blog.

Why? Well, after many years as a registered dietitian specializing in pediatrics, a research scientist, and now director of science and education for a nutrition company, I've amassed some knowledge on food allergies and related digestive conditions in babies and kids. These allergies seem to be taking the world by storm - the number of kids affected just keeps growing and growing. And there seems to be an awful lot of parents out there in the blogosphere looking for info. So, here I am.

November is a great time to start a food allergy blog. We’ve just survived Halloween - my favorite holiday, but a major challenge for families with children with allergies and other digestive conditions. And we’re closing in on Thanksgiving – the great American celebration of gluttony.

Growing up in the Bronx, Thanksgiving was a blast. We ate, we watched the Giants, we ate some more, my mother yelled at my father to turn the TV down, we ate even more…you get the picture. The bird at the center of the table was a beast and there was so much gravy, we could have used it to slip-n-slide down Castle Hill.

Since my wife and I want our kids’ arteries to last them a while, we try to have a little more healthful Thanksgiving now. Still, it’s a wonderful day of feast and football. But how do you make Thanksgiving fun for the entire family when you have a child with a food allergy?

First, let’s talk about the school activities:

1) If your child’s school is having a special Thanksgiving meal, get on the planning committee to make sure that there are at least a few “safe” food for your child on the menu. Replace the foods your child can’t eat, with a “safe” dish you can bring to school that day. It’s always best to be positive and look at what your child “can eat” rather than what he or she “can’t eat”.

2) Encourage your child’s teachers and administrators to put more focus on giving thanks and less on pigging out. (Not a bad lesson for any kid.) Help them plan a volunteer activity, collect canned goods and blankets for a charity, etc.

3) Thanksgiving art projects are great, but make sure they don’t involve dangerous products (i.e. egg-based paint or wheat-based modeling clay).

Now, for the family celebrations:

1) Move the focus of Thanksgiving Day from meal-time to family-time. Embrace your inner-Kennedy and play some football in the back yard. Take a walk together or play some board games. If you’re Super-Mom or Super-Dad, you could even create your own Thanksgiving board game.

2) Check out your local book store for some food allergy cookbooks. Many of them have great recipes for the Turkey Day table that are safe for everybody to eat.

3) If you’re traveling to Grandma’s or Aunt Sally’s, offer to help them make a “safe” dish and bring whatever else your child needs along for the trip.

So, these are a few of my tips. What about yours? What are you doing to make Thanksgiving fun for everyone? And how about those food allergy cook books – any favorites? I’d love to hear from you.

Come back again where we will be talking about managing a special diet during the other holidays!! Until then

“Be Well”
- Dr. Y

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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.