Stave off food allergies in kids by starting early, experts say

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends introducing foods to children early to reduce allergy risks.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – It is estimated that 1-in-13 children in the U.S. are impacted by food allergies but experts say there are steps parents can take to protect their kids.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends parents introduce sensitizing foods, such as peanuts, to infants as young as four to six months.

Early introduction has been shown to potentially reduce the risk of developing an allergy by up to 80%.

“The idea is to build tolerance which is really to desensitize people to foods they’re allergic to so what we do is we bring people in, this is an oral program so basically what we do is we give it to them by mouth, and we start at very low doses and gradually build them up to a certain dose and if they reach a certain dose where they’re not reactive anymore than that’s really a safe dose for them,” said Dr. Christopher Chang, a pediatric immunologist with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

Chang said the controlled building of tolerance protects against cases of accidental exposure to a sensitizing food or substance.

Allergy Sufferers Feel Seasonal Change

And with spring just around the corner, many will be experiencing the itchy eyes, sneezing and stuffy nose that often comes with a change of seasons.

Tree pollen affects a majority of allergy sufferers in the spring, along with mold, pet dander and dust mites.

Experts recommend using a nasal steroid spray to combat congestion but use it correctly.

“Make sure that they point them outwards, right nostril, right ear, left nostril left ear because we want to avoid the nasal septum that runs down the center because if you point into it you can get nose bleeds,” said Dr. Sandra Chong with the Cleveland Clinic.

More severe allergies may cause asthma and require inhalers, different types of nasal sprays, oral medications or allergy shots.

If over-the-counter medications don’t improve your quality of life it’s time to see a doctor or allergist about prescription medications.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.