Posts Tagged ‘allergy’

Update! New guidelines on how to prevent peanut allergies in your baby

Monday, January 9th, 2017

peanut butterPeanut allergies have become a hot topic and for good reason. These allergies can be severe and lifelong.

I remember when I was in school, before my math class we would have to dispose of all peanut products before stepping into the room because a student had a peanut allergy. Even when all products were thrown in the garbage, if the food got in the air, it caused her to have a reaction and she needed to leave class immediately. For those people with a peanut allergy, it can seriously affect their everyday lives.

But good news has just arrived. New clinical guidelines have been issued to help prevent the development of a peanut allergy in children.

Why was there a change in the recommendations?

A new study involving more than 600 babies ages 4-11 months found that those infants who avoided peanut products had a higher rate of peanut allergy than those who ate peanut-products.

Babies and children (up to age 5)  who regularly ate peanut products were less likely to develop a peanut allergy. Specifically, high risk infants (babies who had severe eczema or inflammation of the skin and/or an egg allergy) had an 81% reduction in the development of a peanut allergy.

What are the new guidelines?

  1. Infants who are at high risk of developing a peanut allergy and already have severe eczema, egg allergy or both, should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diet as early as 4-6 months of age to reduce the risk of developing the allergy. But be sure to speak with your baby’s provider before beginning this process.
  2. Infants with mild to moderate eczema should have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets around 6 months of age to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.
  3. Infants without eczema or any food allergy can have peanut-containing foods introduced into their diets at any time after solids have successfully been introduced.

Important:  In all cases, your baby should start other solid foods before introducing peanut-containing foods. Never give whole peanuts or peanut pieces to children under the age of four. Be sure to speak with your baby’s health care provider before making any changes to your baby’s diet. For more information about peanut allergies, see this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Have questions about these new guidelines? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Fall allergies

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

allergies2The air is cooler and makes for good sleeping at night. The pollens and molds, however, make some of us suffer during the day.

If this happens to you and you’re thinking of being tested for allergies but hope to become pregnant soon, either test before you become pregnant or wait until after you have your baby. Allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy because there is a small risk that anaphylaxis may occur. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can include hives, swelling of the tongue and throat, possibly loss of consciousness. During pregnancy, a severe case of anaphylaxis might decrease blood and oxygen flowing to the uterus, possibly harming the fetus.

If you already are taking allergy shots, tell your provider you’re thinking about pregnancy. Depending on your personal situation, your doc may choose to continue the shots full strength, dilute them to 50% or discontinue them. It’s good to have a plan in place before you conceive.

In the meantime, what can you do? Always ask your provider what’s safe for you before taking something. As a general rule, nasal saline (salt water) is good for keeping your nasal passages moist and helping you blow away the nasties. Nasal steroids should be avoided unless prescribed by your doc. Many antihistamines generally are considered safe to use. Decongestants, however, should be avoided during the first trimester due to a possible association with an intestinal defect in the fetus.

If you have a question about the safety of a medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding (over-the-counter or prescription), contact MotherToBaby, a service of OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists.

Controlling asthma during pregnancy

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

inhaler2Asthma is a lung disease that causes your airways to tighten up, making it hard for you to breathe. Asthma affects 4 to 8 out of every 100 pregnant women (4 to 8 percent). If you keep your asthma under control, it probably won’t cause any problems during your pregnancy. So, it’s really important to keep all your prenatal care appointments and work with your health care provider to keep your asthma in check. If you don’t control your asthma, you may be at risk for a serious health problem called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a certain kind of high blood pressure that only pregnant women get and can result in poor fetal growth and other pregnancy complications.

Your health care provider needs to monitor your lungs while you’re pregnant so he can adjust your asthma medicines, if needed. Tell your provider if your symptoms improve or get worse. By limiting your contact with allergens and other asthma triggers, you may need to take less medicine to control your symptoms.

Lots of women ask if it’s safe to take asthma medicine during pregnancy. If asthma symptoms don’t stop or get worse, they can be a risk to you and your baby. If you were taking asthma medicine before pregnancy, don’t stop taking it without talking to your provider first. If you’re diagnosed with asthma during pregnancy, talk to your provider about the best way to treat or manage it.

If you’re already getting allergy shots, you can keep taking them during pregnancy. But if you aren’t getting allergy shots, don’t start taking them when you’re pregnant because you could have a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Asthma symptoms often change during pregnancy. Sometimes they get better and sometimes they get worse. We don’t really understand what causes these changes. If your asthma is not well controlled or if your asthma is moderate to severe, your provider may recommend repeated ultrasounds to check to make sure your baby’s growing normally.

Only about 1 in 10 pregnant women with asthma (10 percent) have symptoms during labor and birth. Take your usual asthma medicines during labor and birth. If you still have asthma symptoms, don’t panic, your health care provider can help control them.

Want to know more? Read our info on asthma during pregnancy, that includes symptoms, common triggers and how to avoid them, treatments, and medications during breastfeeding.

Allergies and pregnancy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

allergies21I can play tic-tac-toe in the pollen that’s covering my car. I have to admit that I love looking at the trees while their leaves burst forth, but the green and yellow tumbleweed they generate gets blown around by traffic and makes my morning commute the beginning of a pollen-producing head pounder.

If this happens to you and you’re thinking of being tested for allergies but hope to become pregnant soon, either test before you become pregnant or wait until after you have your baby. Allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy because there is a small risk that anaphylaxis may occur. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can include hives, swelling of the tongue and throat, possibly loss of consciousness. During pregnancy, a severe case of anaphylaxis might decrease blood and oxygen flowing to the uterus, possibly harming the fetus.

If you already are taking allergy shots, tell your provider you’re thinking about pregnancy. Depending on your personal situation, your doc may choose to continue the shots full strength, dilute them to 50% or discontinue them. It’s good to have a plan in place before you conceive.

In the meantime, what can you do? Always ask your provider what’s safe for you before taking something. As a general rule, nasal saline (salt water) is good for keeping your nasal passages moist and helping you blow away the nasties. Nasal steroids should be avoided unless prescribed by your doc. Many antihistamines generally are considered safe to use. Decongestants, however, should be avoided during the first trimester due to a possible association with an intestinal defect in the fetus.

If you have a question about the safety of a medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding (over-the-counter or prescription), contact OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists.

Mold exposure and asthma

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

asthmaFor those of us impacted by flooding from wicked weather, it is important to know that a newly published study revealed that exposure to household mold in infancy greatly increases a child’s risk of developing asthma.

Researchers with the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study analyzed seven years of data collected from 176 children who were followed from infancy. These children were considered at high risk of developing asthma because of a family medical history of asthma.

By age seven, 18% of the children in the study developed asthma. Those who lived in homes with mold during infancy were three times more likely to develop asthma by age 7 than those who were not exposed to mold when they were infants.

“Early life exposure to mold seems to play a critical role in childhood asthma development,” lead author Tiina Reponen, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, said in a university news release. “Genetic factors are also important to consider in asthma risk, since infants whose parents have an allergy or asthma are at the greatest risk of developing asthma.”

“This study should motivate expectant parents—especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma—to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children,” added Reponen.

If you have suffered water damage, take care to make sure you have no mold growing in your home. This link will take you to articles from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protectioin Agency (EPA) on cleaning up mold.

PediaCare cough and cold medicines recalled

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Four types of Pediacare cough and cold medicines for children have been recalled. The recall is a precaution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently found problems at the plant where the medicines were made.

Products recalled include PediaCare Multi-Symptom Cold, PediaCare Long-Acting Cough, PediaCare Decongestent, and PediaCare Allergy and Cold medicines. If you have any of these products in your home, stop using them.

A reminder: Do not give over-the-counter cough and cold products to infants and children younger than 4 years of age. According to the FDA, these products can have serious and life-threatening side effects. For more information about colds and young children, read the March of Dimes article.

Kids often misdiagnosed with food allergies

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

strawberryWhen I was little, I had asthma and a serious cough. My doctor thought I might be allergic to strawberries, shrimp and tomatoes. So I didn’t eat those foods for much of my childhood. And I really loved strawberries; still do.

But according to new research, my doctor’s theory may have been wrong. Food allergies are often misdiagnosed in children.

Researchers gave 125 children with allergies and eczema (a skin condition) “food challenge” tests. Surprise! Most of the kids could tolerate the foods they had been told to avoid. The study was done by National Jewish Hospital in Denver.

In a food challenge test, a person eats the foods he’s supposedly allergic to, under the supervision of a doctor. The doctor watches for reactions and is ready to provide treatment, if it’s needed. The test is expensive, but many insurance companies pay for it.

Sometimes blood tests are used to diagnose food allergies. But blood tests alone may not be enough for a solid diagnosis. A person may need blood tests, skin tests and food challenges before a diagnosis can be confirmed. It’s also good for patients to talk to their doctors about reactions they have.

If your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy on the basis of only a blood or skin test, you may want to speak to the doctor to see if more testing may be appropriate.

For more information, read Food Allergies and Baby on the March of Dimes Web site.

A promising treatment for peanut allergy? Maybe

Monday, March 16th, 2009

peanuts-sm1The media has been buzzing about a possible new treatment for peanut allergy. Here’s what we know.

Scientists from Duke University presented new research at a national medical meeting on Sunday. This sparked headlines and conversation.

One pilot study involved 33 children who were severely allergic to peanuts. Symptoms of this allergy include stomach upset, skin reactions and, in the most serious cases, breathing problems that can be deadly.

Researchers gave each child a dose of peanuts every day using a powder sprinkled on food. At the beginning, the dose was very small. Over time, it increased, amounting to 15 peanuts per day.

Most children in the study did not have allergic reactions. But four dropped out of the research because they did. After 2 1/2 years, five children in the study stopped the treatment. They can now eat peanuts just like their friends who aren’t allergic.

Are these five children “cured” of peanut allergy? It’s too early to say. Doctors will watch them carefully for several years to know for sure.

So what does this mean for people who have peanut allergies? Too early to say. More research is needed to confirm the pilot study.

Most important: Don’t try this on yourself or on your children. All the children in the study received their doses under the supervision of medical professionals. They were watched closely for allergic reactions.

To learn more about food allergies, read the March of Dimes article on our Web site.

Food allergies: Lots to learn

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I dropped by my local Dunkin’ Donuts the other morning (I confess; I had a pumpkin doughnut). And there was a little sign saying that some of their products contain nuts. This gentle warning, in DD’s bright orange and pink, was for people who have nut allergies. Food allergies are on the rise in the United States, and no one really knows why.

In the United States, 4 to 6 out of every 100 children under the age of 4 are allergic to at least one food. Most allergic reactions are mild. But a small number are very serious and even life threatening. In the worst cases, the blood pressure drops, and the person has trouble breathing.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says, “Little is known about why only some people develop food allergies.” So the NIH has funded 12 new studies at medical institutions across the country. According to The New York Times, some scientists say this will be the most comprehensive research on food allergies ever conducted.

To learn about the eight foods that cause most food allergy reactions, read the March of Dime article Food Allergies and Baby.

Food allergies increase in kids

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Back in the day, I was one of those kids who always had the sniffles. Part of the problem was food allergies. So the doctor said I had to avoid certain food, including chocolate. No candy bars! It was the worst!

Food allergies in children appear to be increasing in the U.S., according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2007, 4 out of every 100 children had a food allergy. Between 1997 and 2006, food allergy rates increased among preschoolers and older children. Hospitalizations related to food allergies have also gone up.

No one knows why the numbers are increasing. But one factor may be that parents are now more likely to take their child to a doctor when they suspect food allergies.

Some of the common signs of food allergies are hives, itchy skin, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, diarrhea amd nausea. The best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the food you’re allergic to.

Children with food allergies are more likely than other kids to develop respiratory problems, including asthma. So if you think your child may have a food allergy, talk to her health care provider.

To learn more, read Food Allergies and Baby on the March of Dimes Web site.